2008 Irish Champion: Roland Budd
The 2008 IRTA Open and Closed Championships took place over the weekend of May 31st and June 1st. Cambridge University Real Tennis Club (CURTC) hosted the Open Championship and Newmarket and Suffolk Real Tennis Club hosted the Closed Championship event with both proving to be excellent venues. With two courts available in CURTC we were able to hold two divisions in the Open Competition with 24 players participating in total.
The Open Championship — Division 1
The Open Championship was divided into two divisions, Division 1 and Division 2, according to handicap. Each division consisted of three round robin groups with the winner of each plus one lucky loser progressing to the semi-finals. All games were played according to handicap. The trophies were awarded on Saturday afternoon after the event by IRTA Chairman Mike Bolton, who spoke of the status of Dublin Court and thanked everyone for their support.
Division 1 Group A
This proved to be the most challenging of the groups in the competition with Malcolm Howlett eventually emerging the winner after three hard-fought matches. Linda Fairbrother, who won two of her round robin games, was unlucky not to progress having beaten Malcolm in her final game. Stuart Baxter, participating for the first time in the Irish Championships, scored a stunning victory against past Open Championship winner Roland Budd, 5–1. Stuart played some very excellent tennis (which he also brought to the Irish Closed Championships) with many winning volleys played cross court to the foot of the tambour.
Division 1 Group B
Unfortunately, Richard Marmoy was unable to attend on the day and we were very grateful to Karen Hird who substituted for him. With such a huge handicap difference between Karen and Messrs Heffernan, Smith and Zauers, it proved to be a difficult afternoon for Karen with all three men scoring 5–1 victories over her. Kárlis Zauers finished top of the group with three wins but was pushed all the way by Ken G. Smith in a very close game that finished 5–4.
Division 1 Group C
Mark Keogh finish top of this group with three wins out of three with his measured approach (with few errors) paying him dividends. Both Gerald Smith and Mike Bolton put up some stubborn resistance to Mark but he proved too good on the day. Unfortunately Lorne Williamson had to withdraw in his first game with a muscle strain.
Division 1 Semi-Finals
The first semi-final pitted Malcolm Howlett against Kárlis Zauers. Malcolm's earlier round robin games appeared to have taken some toll and after some tough early rallies, Kárlis ran out winner 6–2. In a replay of the Irish Closed Championship from 2008 Mark Heffernan took on Mark Keogh. Again this proved to be a very close affair with many changes of end as both players cut for chases and the advantage of the service end. Mark Heffernan emerged the winner 6–4 after some thrilling rallies in the last game.
Division 1 Final
Having lost to Kárlis in the round robin stage (and finished as the lucky loser in Division 1), Mark played a much different game in the final. With Kárlis going 2–0 and 4–2 up, Mark kept his concentration and moved Kárlis around the court as much as possible, scoring good chases in the process. After play had stopped for a change of racket Mark played much more aggressively forcing into the dedans on the return of serve and playing with pace towards the grille and tambour. It paid off and Mark emerged the winner taking the last four games to win 6–4.
Congratulations to Mark Heffernan the Irish Open Championship 2008 (Division 1) winner!
The Open Championship — Division 2
Division 2 Group A
Jeremy Fairbrother emerged the winner with three wins out of three. Despite the handicap difference Jeremy played many winners with few errors — the perfect way to play. Jane Parry scored two wins but was no match for Jeremy. Jacalyn Thoren and Rebecca Broderick, both playing in their first Irish Championships, had a close match against each other with excellent displays of serving.
Division 2 Group B
Gillian Moore and Claire Russell, members of CURTC, both displayed a measured approach to the game with tight serving followed by strong shots into space (stretching the opponent) and forcing errors. David Lowry's speed and powerful shots proved strongest as he won three games out of three. Christopher Corballis, playing for the first time, found the pace of shot difficult but progressed as the day went on.
Division 2 Group C
Group C proved to be a very close affair with ciotógach Brendan Doherty winning one game almost from serves alone against Daniel McInerney and narrowly losing another against Henry Russell 5–4. Jeremy Davidson (who ended up as a lucky loser) won two games from three but found it hard to combat Henry's pace and movement. Daniel McInerney started slowly, taking some time to get used to the court, but improved significantly as the day went on.
Division 2 Semi-Finals
The first semi-final pitted Jeremy Fairbrother against David Lowry. David again was moving well and chasing down balls that would normally be chases for Jeremy. David managed to keep the service end for much of the match and ran out winner 6–2. The second semi-final was a rematch of a round robin game between Henry Russell and Jeremy Davidson. This time Jeremy changed his game plan and played much slower tennis with deliberate lobbing to put Henry under pressure and playing into the galleries to regain the service end. The match proved to be a classic example of youth versus experience with experience and Jeremy winning 6–4.
Division 2 Final
David Lowry's pace and scrambling around the court retrieving many sure-to-be chases was on display throughout the round robin games and semi-final. The final proved no exception but as well as his retrieving making it difficult for Jeremy, David's powerful shot-making ended up being the difference. David won 6–4 after a very long, and very tense match.
Congratulations to David Lowry the Irish Open Championship 2008 (Division 2) winner!
The Closed Championship
The Closed Championship was played as a straight knock-out draw with first round losers entering a plate section. All games were played at a 2/3rds handicap difference. All players were seeded according to handicap.
All seeds progressed from the first round with Brendan Doherty the only qualifier to take a game against Mike Bolton. Mike's array of shots (including some from behind his back) proved too much for the ciotógach!
Roland Budd, Mark Keogh, and Stuart Baxter all progressed to the semi-finals with few scares in their games. Stuart again played very well against Kárlis Zauers, dispatching any of Karlis's loose shots into the grille or tambour. Daniel McInerney nearly caused an upset against Mark Heffernan but despite retrieving well Danny could not match Mark's scoring and he lost 4–6.
In the semi-final, the top two seeds both displayed their class against their opposition. Roland had the spectators gasping and cheering as he hit the tambour from all areas of the court and many while he was at full stretch. He ran out winner 6–2. Stuart also was warming to the court and hitting out more, scoring winning shots into the dedans and grille with ease. He won in some style, 6–3.
After the semi-finals and such excellent tennis, the final had much to live up to. The final was played the first to nine games and it was Stuart who raced into an early lead 3–1 as Roland served poorly. It was Roland's long reach and strength that saved him as Stuart volleyed many of Roland's serves cross court in an attempt to catch the side wall to land chase 3 or better. Roland was able to retrieve these at full stretch and push them towards the tambour or low cross court. Both players experienced moments of ascendency as they finally levelled at 5–5 and 6–6, but Roland it was who proved the fitter and took the last two games to win in this incredibly tense affair which left the supporters in the dedans gasping.
Congratulations to Roland Budd the Irish Closed Championship 2008 winner!
The plate event saw the ciotógachs Brendan Doherty and Rebecca Broderick take on Jacalyn Thoren and Christopher Corballis in the final. Christopher in particular played excellently as he stepped forward to volley floating balls. Jacalyn bobble served brilliantly and they ran out winners 5–1.
Congratulations to Jacalyn Thoren and Christopher Corballis the Irish Closed Plate Championship 2008 winners!
The trophies were awarded after the event on Sunday afternoon on court at the Newmarket and Suffolk Real Tennis Club by IRTA Chairman Mike Bolton who thanked everyone for their continuing support and enthusiasm.
Many thanks to the Professionals at CURTC (Kees Ludekens, Peter Paterson and Scott Blaber) and N&SRTC (Andrew Knibbs) for their wonderful hospitality. Sponsors Investor Select generously provided financial support for the event. Special thanks to Christopher Corballis for pictures and scoring; Linda Fairbrother, Malcolm Howlett and Roland Budd for the numerous matches they marked and also to everyone who helped out with the event.
If you are interested in joining a trip to play some tennis please contact the IRTA.
— Kárlis Zauers