Champion: Roland Budd
Doubles Champions: Tom Lucey and Roland Budd

The Irish Real Tennis Association spent a fantastic weekend in Cambridge for the annual Irish Championships on September 13–14. After some competitive tennis, played off half handicaps, Roland Budd emerged as the victor, becoming the first to lift the beautiful new ‘Bolton Trophy’.

The tournament was played on both of the magnificent Cambridge courts through the Saturday. There was some good quality tennis in the early rounds in the morning, with the semi-finalists emerging after some close matches as: Richard Ramjane vs Rupert Derham and Roland Budd vs Rustom Manecksha.

In the first semi, Derham and Ramjane had a close contest, but recent injury and lack of court time perhaps caught up with Richard as Rupert made his way to the final with an 8–4 victory. In the second semi, the Irish-based matchup of Budd and Manecksha was also played at a high tempo, but a combination of an in-form Budd and Manecksha’s reliable railroad not causing the trouble that it typically does meant that Roland progressed with an 8–3 win.

The final therefore saw last year’s incumbent champion (Derham) take on the challenge of Budd, who has seven previous tournament wins to his name. As such, it was a classic and entertaining encounter. After some hard hitting and impressive rallies, the intelligent tennis of Budd saw him through to a 10–4 victory to add an eighth title to his Tennis CV.

The plate competition turned out to be a family affair, as Vince Lucey found himself facing his son Tom in the final. Experience beat guile to the prize, as Lucey senior won the match 8–6. One wonders how long he will be able to sustain the victories over the promising young player!

The doubles tournament was played alongside the singles, and the pairing of Tom Lucey and Roland Budd won group A to face Jack Woods and William Wilks in the final. Woods and Wilks battled hard, but Budd and Lucey’s speed and accuracy eventually prevailed in a 6–3 win.

A great day was had by all, with Cambridge basking in beautiful late summer sunshine. We had the excitement of a stunning new trophy that had been hand-crafted expertly by our own Mike Bolton, with the IRTA emblem of a harp-shaped racket forming the centrepiece. During the day we were even treated to the arrival of a Hen Party who were on a tour of Cambridge and no fewer than four of the Irish players were very attentive in welcoming the girls to the court and encouraging their Tennis interests! The day finished with a lovely dinner at a local restaurant followed by a night in the marvellous St Catherine’s College, at which the travelling IRTA members were staying.

We were hosted to a match against CURTC on the Sunday. All competitors were very well matched, with five of the seven games going to a third set. The score was poised at 2–2 after four matches, but the hosts played some classy tennis later in the day and went on to win 5–2. It was a convivial encounter and one we hope to repeat in future years. Many thanks go to CURTC for a delightful luncheon on the day.

We had excellent help from the Cambridge Pro and Assistants throughout both days, so our thanks go to Scott, Peter and Kees for their help. We hope to return to Cambridge for an IRTA event in the near future. Many thanks also to the ‘behind-the-scenes’ heroes, Roland Budd and Ben and Bear North, who put a large amount of work into organising the event.

— Jack Woods