The 2016 Pol Roger Inter-University Tournament saw a gathering of Men’s and Women’s student real tennis players from across the country at the Cambridge University Real Tennis Club (the home of Real Tennis at Grange Road) and, for those brave enough to venture there, the Newmarket and Suffolk Real Tennis Club.
Representatives were present from St Andrews to Exeter University including a lone wolf from Oxford. There were early (and in some cases, very painful) starts at Newmarket, rumours of a winning gallery competition within the Middlesex camp, too many photos to count and some splendid tennis played across four days.
The Handicap singles saw 61 students take to the court and Cambridge’s Keeler Mears, Amanda Murphy and Matt Shaw topped their groups and made it into the round of sixteen. Precision and killer spin then took Matt Shaw into the Handicap Singles Semi-Final where he played splendidly to beat Charlie Drew 6-1. The other Semi-Final saw an all Durham affair, where Oliver Taylor (a.k.a. Bandit 1) took on Matt Brooks (a.k.a. Bandit 2). Taylor came out on top 6-4, and nobody was left in any doubt that both of these players would have much lower handicaps come next year! In the final, Taylor defeated Shaw 8-3 playing a handicap difference of 35, highlights of which can be found on the “CURTC Fixtures” YouTube channel!
The Pol Roger Champagne Reception and Dinner was a great event, held at the nearby Robinson College. Pol Roger Champagne and a three course dinner was enjoyed by all. Some of the more serious athletes continued the festivities in one of the local ‘training’ establishments, meaning there were some sore muscles (heads) for finals day.
The Pol Roger Inter-University Cup saw teams from Durham, Exeter, Middlesex, Newcastle, St Andrews, London and Birmingham and Cambridge (including the Cambridge women’s team) battle it out in both singles and doubles. Both the first and second CURTC teams made it through to the Semi-Finals beating teams from Newcastle, St Andrews, Durham and Exeter. Despite the attempts of Jimmy Campbell to provide an epic Saturday night for the London and Birmingham (HS2) team, Robert Shenkman and Charlie Braham arrived at the courts on Sunday and had the measure of the second CURTC team in the Semi-Final, defeating Campbell and Shaw three matches to love.
The final was streamed live (and can also be found on the CURTC Fixtures YouTube channel) where the HS2 duo took on the Cambridge first team of Kay and Giddins. Kay took the first rubber 8-7, saving match points along the way, against Braham, while Shenkman continued his good form against Giddins winning 8-5. The doubles deciding rubber provided tennis of the highest quality, team HS2 fighting back from 7-5 down to take the match 8-7 and the trophy.
The weekend was enjoyed immensely by all that attended, and thanks must go to all of the pros for organising one of the biggest tournaments in Real Tennis.