Five members of the IRTA travelled to England to play at three Real Tennis Clubs. We first visited Canford, near Bournemouth, where we were warmly met by the Head Pro, Steve Ronaldson. The day began with a beginners' lesson and continued with games between Canford Tennis Club members and the IRTA players. A second lesson took place later on in the day. One of our IRTA members resident in England travelled to Canford in order to participate in the match. A lovely lunch was prepared for our benefit and use of the club was ours until we eventually had to leave in order to travel to our second destination. A number of the party also took the opportunity to walk through the extensive grounds of Canford School and admire the beautiful buildings.
Our second port of call was Bristol and Bath Tennis Club. Kevin King, the Head Pro, was most welcoming and ensured that the beginners of the group were first on the court for an early lesson. Again there was a second lesson in the afternoon. A series of games was played between the Bristol and Bath Tennis Club and the IRTA. Three IRTA members resident in other parts of England travelled to take part in the fixture. One of the Bristol-based IRTA members, Barbara Coates, laid on an excellent meal for the players and supporters, and some of the travelling party did some local sightseeing, making a quick visit to the nearby Clifton Suspension Bridge in the spring sunshine.
On the Saturday evening we left Bristol and travelled south to Dorset, where we were the guests of Antony Brown, an IRTA member who plays at The Hyde Real Tennis Club. We were welcomed most generously by the Browns and their neighbour Lois Pearson and although on Sunday morning we woke to find the countryside snow-covered, we were soon on our way to the beautiful court at The Hyde Real Tennis Club, in Bridport. As at the other two clubs, the day commenced with a lesson for the (rapidly improving!) beginners with the pro, in this case Ben Ronaldson. The beginners' lesson was followed by matches between The Hyde and the IRTA. The snow had melted by the time we arrived at the court, but the comfort of the dedans was enhanced by the lighting of a fire (how many courts feature a fireplace in the dedans?!). We once again enjoyed a tremendous meal, and later in the day there was the opportunity for some doubles before the time came to set off for Bournemouth Airport and an evening flight back to Dublin.
An enjoyable time was had by the five members of the IRTA who were lucky enough to go on this trip. We extend our sincerest thanks to each club for their warm welcome and accommodation of the IRTA and look forward to returning some time in the future.
— Rebecca Broderick
IRTA V Canford
IRTA V Bristol
IRTA V The Hyde
— Thanks to Kárlis Zauers for match results