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70+ Category Tournament

Last weekend saw the first of this season’s Category tournaments for those with handicaps of, you guessed it, greater than 70. On Friday evening the 80+ handicappers had their own mini tourney with two qualifying for the Saturday groups. So congratulations to Christopher Desira who has the 80+ bragging rights for the rest of the season. Congrats also to Jacqueline Siu who also made it through to Saturday but special congratulations to everyone who signed up and played!

On Saturday, the groups went more or less to form as Elle Curzon-Green and Krittka D’Silva won their groups with 3 wins each but with a couple of close 6-5 matches on the way. They met Paul Fox and Joss Poulton in the two semi-finals in another good mix of ‘Town & Gown’. Elle presumably not wearing a gown was clearly unstoppable and Paul edged the other semi to earn a rematch in the Tournament final which will be played on Finals Day, sponsored by Hannay-Robertson Financial Planning, Saturday, March 16th next year. Click on the image below and you will be able to see all the results.

Elle & Paul’s route to Finals day

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Inter-University Tournament, 2018

IU 2018

Middlesex University @IUT 2018

For four days in late November, Cambridge and Newmarket Real Tennis clubs hosted over 60 fresh-faced students from nine universities across the UK for the annual Inter-University tournament. In addition to tournament debuts from St Andrew’s University and St Mary’s University, this year saw the return of Oxford to the tournament, along with strong delegations from Exeter, Bristol, Newcastle, Durham, Middlesex and the hosts Cambridge.

Newcastle, Durham and Middlesex arrived in Cambridge for the start of play on Thursday evening, kicking things off with the first three groups in the handicap singles tournament. Despite the long travel, Hubie Sangster (Newcastle) was the first group winner through to the knockout stages and was joined there by the Middlesex pair of Juan Camacho and Luke Newman.

The tournament began in earnest on Friday morning as the remainder of the teams filed into Cambridge. The day started with the first round of the Inter-University Cup. Each University fields a number of teams of two or three players, and each fixture comprises of two singles and a doubles match. This year, the teams were seeded, so the stronger teams would only be joining later in the competition. Even still, three teams collected 8-0 clean sheets across all three of their matches, the most excitement coming in the match between Cambridge 4 and Middlesex 3. Tied 1-all after the singles, the result came down to the doubles. A late surge by the Middlesex duo of Prabhiyot Kang and Harry Ashton was too much for Elle Curzon Green and Sophia Lewis; Middlesex taking the fixture 8-5.

The remainder of Friday was consumed with most of the rest of the group stages of the handicap tournament. The first appearance for St Mary’s University at the tournament began well, with club founder Trevor Jones winning his group losing only a single game. Elsewhere, rackets players Ivo Macdonald (Cambridge) and Felix Delaforce (Exeter) showed how similar the two sports are, cruising to victories in their respective groups. Bristol also had a good afternoon, all four of their entrants (Jamie Day, Louis Richards, Valentine Scott-Geddes and Alexis De Chaisemartin) making it through. Sophia Lewis (Cambridge) narrowly won her group on a countback of games won. The group stages were also played over at Newmarket, with Charlotte Facto (Newmarket) winning her group, with Krittika D’Silva the Best of the Rest after a narrow 4-5 loss to group winner Scott-Geddes. That evening, the top two groups with the lowest handicaps played in Cambridge. This served as a preview of the Cup matches to come, but saw some excellent tennis. Charles Defries (Oxford) arrived late owing to the withdrawal of Rory Giddins (Oxford), but then breezed past Jimmy Campbell (Cambridge) and Oliver Martyn-Hemphill (Durham). Finally, George Skinner (Durham) came tantalisingly close, but was beaten by Felix White (Newcastle) in a tense 5-4 showdown.

Saturday would see most of the knockout phases of the Inter-University Cup. These produced a series of very close and very long matches that would put the schedule hours behind. The biggest run was made by the Bristol team of Louis Richards and Jamie Day. After a narrow 8-6 game between Richards and Felix Delaforce (Exeter) which included 14 deuces, their match against the Cambridge 2 team of Jack Drew and Ben Geytenbeek was tied 1-1 after the singles. Cambridge took too long to settle down in the doubles, and some excellent railroad serves from Day took Bristol to victory. Newcastle 2 received nothing but consolation for their doubles win over Cambridge 3’s Ivo Macdonald and Aaron Wienkers, after Wienkers has held on 8-7 against William Robertson.

Elsewhere, the tournament debut for St Andrew’s University did not go well, losing to the Newcastle pair of Charles Walker and Charles Seddon. However, the top seeds of Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and Newcastle were a class above the rest of the field, all breezing through the quarter-finals, except a tight 8-7 victory for James Bargent (Newcastle) over Jamie Day (Bristol). Over at Newmarket, Elle Curzon Green (Cambridge) became the final group winner in the Handicap Singles tournament, rushing back to Cambridge for the knock-out stages.

Running over-time, the last few matches of the day was the round of 16 of the handicap singles. Notable matches included Elle Curzon Green (Cambridge) starting with a 43 point handicap advantage and banned chases worse than 3 against Charles Defries (Oxford), and pulled through to a 6-4 victory. Perhaps the most dramatic moment of the tournament came between Trevor Jones (St Mary’s) and Louis Richards (Bristol). At 5-all, 40-all, match point, Richards let go of his racket during his serve, and Jones capitalised by making a chase of a yard. But then a below-average serve saw Richards pummel the ball straight and hard into the dedans to win the match.

The excitement carried on to the Pol Roger Champagne Reception and Tournament Dinner held at the University Athletics Pavilion, down the road from the tennis courts. The Pavilion had been transformed into a lovely dinner venue and we were fortunate to have the company of a handful of tennis greats – Paul Weaver and Duncan Colquhoun, current over 60s Doubles champions, along with Chris Bray, former British Number 1 – to add even more inspiration to the event. Paul and Tori Weaver joined us as representatives of the Dedanist’s Foundation, which gives considerable support to many of the Clubs which enter the Inter-Universities Tournament. It was a great evening with a well-earned glass of Pol Roger Champagne followed by some excellent red and white wine to accompany the delicious meal. Many thanks were given to Pol during the speeches, for their fine contribution to the event.

2018 Inter-University Cup Winners, Rory Giddins & Charlie Defries, Oxford

Sunday was the final day of the tournament. In the handicap singles, Felix Delaforce (Exeter) and Juan Camacho (Middlesex) breezed through their quarter and semi-finals. The final match was a test of Delaforce’s rackets skills of boasting and retrieving against Camacho’s solid forehand and reliable volley. Ultimately, Delaforce took a good victory, 8-3. In the Inter-University Cup, both Oxford and Cambridge beat Newcastle and Durham to turn the final into an abbreviated Varsity Match; a sneak preview to the match at Lord’s in March. Ed Hyde (Cambridge) retrieved well against Rory Giddins (Oxford), taking victory in his match. But Charles Defries (Oxford) returned serve well against Jimmy Campbell (Cambridge), and despite a close match, Defries was able to put it to a deciding doubles. Oxford held against everything that the Cambridge pair threw at them, ultimately taking the match and the 2018 Inter-University Cup.

Jimmy Campbell & Ed Hyde, Cambridge

It was a hugely successful tournament, and accolades must be given to the Cambridge professionals Kees Ludekens and Peter Paterson, along with Vix Harvey for their hard work organising the tournament and marking all of the matches on the final day. Thanks also to the Dedanist’s Foundation and the T&RA for their support of the event. It was a fantastic tournament, and great showcase of the talent in the future of the game.

Ben Geytenbeek, reporting from the Cambridge Dedans.

Down the line, Jimmy. Down the line…

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East Anglia Pennant: CURTC vs Hatfield House @CURTC

35-45 Julian Stafford
45-55 Jim Ludekens
55-65 Alan Sharpe
55-65 Linda Fairbrother
HH Team
35-45 Don Fahrenheim
45-55 James Barlow
55-65 Steve Sullivan
55-65 Sarah Sullivan
Results: Singles
Alan vs Sarah: 5-3
Linda vs Steve: 6-0
Jim vs Roger: 6-5
Julian vs Don: 6-0
Results: Doubles
Alan and Linda vs Steve and Sarah: 6-1
Julian and Jim vs Don and Roger: 2-6

Alan pushed Sarah to the time limit in a great back and forth match; and secured victory 5 games to 3. Linda didn’t let Sarah’s husband Steve in at any point during the one sided epic, securing a 6-0 victory.

Julian faced a tough handicap against Don but played fiercely to achieve a comprehensive victory. Jim fought hard to win his match with a smaller but no less troublesome handicap deficit.

Linda and Alan stayed on top, beating the Sullivans 6-1 in the doubles; Jim and Julian faced a wall in their match, finally succumbing the brutal handicap. Jim has decided to reintroduce his stool in the first gallery for the next doubles battle.

Jim’s Mum Louise provided a banquet to finish the evening for both the pennant crew and the doubles league, so a very good feast was had by all.

Jim Ludekens

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Fahey chalks up another Open title – 50 and counting…Doubles tonight

Congratulations to Rob Fahey, who claimed his 50th Open title at Queen’s last night. If you missed it, the stream of the match is here:

Will he make it 51 with the Doubles? Play starts at 6.00pm tonight (Tuesday 20th). Search T&RA on YouTube to find the live stream.

Picture courtesy of Cambridge News

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Dark Blue Wash*

CURTC, Not very many – Lots, OUTC

*No, it’s not a program on your washing machine.
It’s always a pleasure to welcome the other place to the Home of Real Tennis and this Saturday was no exception. Indeed, very welcoming hosts we were in allowing our visitors full use of the winners column. Credit to Ollie Brenton & Dave Isherwood who won sets in the Singles, especially Ollie who might have spared our blushes if his match had not been interrupted.
‘We will get ’em in the Doubles’ also proved a vain hope as our two Doubles pairs continued the welcoming host theme of the Singles matches and managed to come second by identical scores. Nonetheless a thoroughly enjoyable day of tennis and lunch. We look forward to visiting the other place again next year!

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New East Anglian Pennant – 1st round WIN!

The new East Anglian league got off to a great start last Thursday at Hatfield House, where we won 4-2. Richard Jones and Ben Geytenbeek both claimed victory over husband and wife team Sarah and Steve Sullivan in their respective singles matches as well as the doubles. Jim Ludekens (captain) won his singles. Julian was making a fierce comeback to level the score but time was called before he could finish. Jim and Julian started well in their doubles but had an ‘iffy’ patch which allowed their opponents to close the gap and come out on top. The dinner was delicious – bangers and mash and an excellent apple pie. After a great evening, Cambridge left as the winners, looking forward to the next round.

Jim Ludekens

For the results… Read More

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Battle of the Amateur Champions

Battle of the Amateur Champions-1

Giraffe Club Cup & Blues Reunion, 1 – 3 February 2019

The Giraffe Club Cup is an exciting new annual CURTC tournament. Read More

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Victory in the North

Our esteemed Fixtures Secretary is keeping quiet about this – but CONGRATULATIONS, Christie, that trip to the Jesmond Dene invitational doubles seems to have paid off!

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IRTA visit the Home of Real Tennis

CURTC, 2 – 5, IRTA

Our first Club match of the season proved enjoyable but the Irish, especially the visiting Irish, proved more than a match for the Home team.

Roland Budd, not missing the ball

Roland Budd, not missing the ball

Led by Roland Budd, the visiting Irish were in fine form in spite of playing what (to me at least) looked like an exhausting schedule of Singles and Doubles in their tournament the previous day. A brief glimmer of success was provided by Andy Smith who was in imperious form against Rustom Manecksha. On Blue, Roland clearly decided that mistakes were not his thing and barely put a foot (or ball) wrong against a hard working Julian Stafford.
Tony Penny, not missing it either

Tony Penny, not missing it either

A couple of contrasting 3-setters followed, both going to the IRTA. Mark Rossiter belied his years and losing the first set by keeping his composure and ball striking on track to take that critical third. Howard played the role of comeback kid after narrowly losing the first set against Tony Penny. In fact so emphatic was his second set showing that I decided lunch was in order and I was somewhat surprised to hear the ‘Oh it’s 5-All’..
Mike Bolton

Mike Bolton

The last match was an entertaining Doubles struggle where the average age was ~40 on one side of the net and circa 50 on the other. However the 50 side had a far greater variance in years and prevailed by that narrowest of margins in the third. I hope I’m that mobile when I get to Mike Bolton’s vintage!
Apologies to Richard Ramjane, John(ny O’)Lees and Gerald Smith who ‘missed out’ on being snapped. Many thanks to Peter & Kees for marking and organising and we look forward to welcoming the IRTA back to the Home of Real Tennis next year or even a visit to a re-opened court in Dublin…

A link to a Google photos gallerynof the above images and much more

And finally the scores!

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East Anglia Cup, 2018…

…was held at Hatfield this year. The result came down to the last match between the Richards of Hatfield* and Newmarket** (effectively playing as a proxy of Prested). The Richard of Hatfield had to win to wrest the title (and the rather splendid cup) from Prested’s grasp. Sportingly, he gave Richard of Newmarket a 4 game lead (the match being a set to 6) before drawing level. We in the Dedans thought that was it but Richard of Newmarket had other thoughts. He promptly won the 9th game but then it was 5-all and 30 -all. At this point, Richard*** won two straight points and it was all over…
The less said about Cambridge’s performance the better. It would have been a complete debacle without Ollie Brenton who amassed 75% of our points with some remarkably cool and calm headed tennis over much more experienced opponents. Thanks to him (and him alone) we just beat Newmarket to avoid the EAC Wooden Spoon.
***Cheap shot. Which Richard? Ed
ps Many Thanks to Robin Mace and Hatfield for hosting such an excellent day of Tennis (and congratulations to them on winning the 2018 EAC…)

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The Dedanists



Complex, but with scores

Complex, but with scores

The Dedanists are a peripatetic (i.e. don’t have a Home Court) Club who run a successful foundation to support junior and emerging tennis. This is great for the game in general even if a bit late for yours truly whose tennis I’m forced to admit has fully emerged. Things started brightly for the Dedanists on Saturday. For a start everyone (all 10) showed up on time even if there was a bit of grumbling at the complexity of the arrangements (It was really quite simple, find letter corresponding to you first match in the Table on the top left and then the time and Court in the Table to the right. Repeat in reverse to find you partner and opponents. Repeat in the Match 2 column to find your second match… Simple, right!).
Through a masterstroke of programming the pairs in each of the 10 matches were within 2 handicap points of level, so off level we played (with full deuces). On Court the brightness continued for the Dedanists continued as we/they romped to victory in the 1st two matches. Well, romped is perhaps a bit misleading as on the Blue Court, myself and Simon Mansfield produces an almost Lazarus worthy comeback from 4-2 down to win 8-7. On the other Court, Josh Farrall and Chris Stanton took an entirely different approach. They got their noses in front before starting a seemingly endless series of deuces. The marker finally took pity on the players (and the spectators) by calling the game 6-3 to the Dedanists after the 50 minutes allocated time… We had long finished our 15 games by this point.
However at this point things clouded over Dedenistwise. There were some notable attempts at fightbacks without unfortunately actually winning and spirited attempts to get on with winning or losing (actually losing) as quickly as possible to get the schedule back on track. And so alas the Dedanists early lead evaporated as the match finished 8-2 in favour of the Hosts.
However the main business of the day was by no means over. Not only was there an excellent lunch but also a true masterclass on joint replacement and pain management (both before and after). I had no idea about the possibilities out there and my (single) hip replacement along with a couple of Ibuprofen before venturing out seem positively amateurish compared to what can be achieved.
Yet again we eschewed the traditional team photos and instead focussed on some action shots off (and on) Court. A selection below…



Linda & David attempt to grasp the rules of Rock-Paper-Scissors…

Thanks to Peter & Simon for their marking!

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Seacourt drop by for some Lunch (and Tennis)

Seacourt, CURTC, Seacourt, Seacourt, CURTC, SS (marker)

Seacourt, CURTC, Seacourt, Seacourt, Seacourt, CURTC, SS (marker)

Seacourt visited Grange Road following tennis related detours to Hatfield and Newmarket last Sunday. To be fair, they had had to endure the day/night of eternal rugby whilst in Newmarket so were perhaps not at their ‘freshest’. However, this was not really apparent on Court as they took three of the four Singles whilst resting in the Doubles.

This left the match tied at 3 apiece which is how it remains following a failed attempt to count back glasses of wine over lunch. All the Singles went to three sets so there were plenty of candidates for the much coveted come-back of the day award, a.k.a. the Lazarus Shield. In fact it was so close, that we are going to leave it to you dear reader(s) to decide with the following poll…

Lazarus Shield

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The Hyde Visit

The Hyde, 3 – 3, CURTC

The Hyde is the UK’s westernmost Court in the UK and is about as close to Devon as you can get and still be in Dorset. Their Court has had a colourful past and has at various times been for repairing tanks, housing livestock barn and storing farm machinery. In 1998 it was restored to its rightful purpose. We started off with two Singles match and mine was over sufficiently quickly to see Gerald complete a comeback from losing the first set.
On to the Doubles… Al Clark continued his incredible main wall boasts which homed in the Dedans with those that missed falling for chases around the 3 yard mark. The first set went in a blur of trying to work out where to best position ourselves to stand a chance of being within a racket’s length as Al’s volleys zipped by. At 4-1 down in the second, we managed to get a couple back and clawed Lazaruslike back in to the match. Gillian & Kate won their Doubles handily but graciously allowed their opponents to feel their long trip had been worthwhile. We look forward to the return trip to Dorset next year.

The Hyde: John Davies, Mark Brinson, Ros & Al Clark

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Some familiar faces (and magnificent weather) greeted us in Jesmond after a fairly dismal drive on Saturday morning although what on earth I was thinking in arranging this trip on a bank holiday weekend is a very good question. The dismalness of the drive was only surpassed by the dismalness of the news coming from Test Match Special at Lord’s with a similar ‘what on earth was he thinking?’ question never far from one’s mind.
On Court we arrived to find poor Dave being helped into the changing room after a stirring comeback from 4-0 down had been cut short. Kate Kirk got Cambridge back to winning ways by refusing to be intimidated by her opponent’s repeatedly returning everything. However, the CURTC husband and wife pairing was not a success this time in the subsequent Doubles. Suffice it to say Guy did not have the best of days on Court having manpersonfully driven us for 5 1/2 hours up the A1.
I had a rather better day and actually had some success targeting the Grille for once! However the ‘match of the day’ was my teaming up with Bernie in the Doubles. We started ok against some strong (and youthful) opposition but couldn’t keep the serve and trailed 3-6 and 5-7. The wind changed (or something did, anyway) and we levelled the score, by keeping the serving end more effectively. Bernie was on fire and served out the last game with my only touch of the ball being when I handed him one between points! Alas it was too much for our hero and the final Singles went Jesmond’s way.

Jesmond, 6 – 3, CURTC

Scott & Kerry joined us for a splendid meal in the evening before we retired to our mercifully fairly quiet hotels on Osbourne Road. Some ‘hangover’ Doubles in the morning set us up for lunch al fresco (apparently the weather is like this all the time in Newcastle…) and  a far less dismal (news from Lord’s not withstanding) journey back by train. We look forward to welcoming Jesmond on May 19th next year (if not sooner).

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Cambridge Weekend, sponsored by our good friends at Pol Roger

Vixtorious Team B: Chris Evans & Evelyn Fleming, Jim Ludekens & Vix Harvey, India Blaksley & Alex Ridgeon

This year’s Cambridge Weekend featured a new Team Mixed Doubles Tournament, an ‘A Grade’ Doubles tournament for those too under handicapped to qualify for the aforementioned TMDT and myself commuting from Cambourne (don’t ask). For the (don’t ask) reasons, I can’t normally play over the Cambridge Weekend so I was eager to find out how mixed was my tennis these days as I am too over handicapped to qualify for ‘A Grade’ status. The answer was very… Mind you the format of the tournament was a step outside my comfort zone as we each played three matches of two (yes two) sets each.

Pol Roger: Action Shot

To avoid complicating the organisers already somewhat complicated lives our Mixed pairing chose to lose (mostly) or win (occasionally) both of the two sets. However, our team mates were not so thoughtful as they chose to sometimes win one set and lose the other (or vice versa), prompting the perfectly reasonable question as to whether they had won (or lost)? In any case, the organisers were one step ahead of us and simply added up sets won (which in our case was rather easier than adding up sets lost) to determine the the winning Team without answering our team mates aforementioned question directly. In any case it was all very enjoyable and as nobody really knew who was going to win we all kept on merrily hacking away under the vague illusion that there most be some way that our admittedly increasingly dismal scores could translate through some fiendish algorithm into a Team C victory.

Team Mixed Doubles

On Saturday afternoon, we were joined by the other Doubles tournament played under a more usual scoring arrangement. However, the organisers had clearly anticipated that this arrangement would be disappointingly uncomplicated for the participants so they chose to mix things up a bit through a few typos on the scoresheet, see photo. So again nobody really knew who had won that Tournament either!

We try to make sense of it all…

A Grade Doubles

Stephen Doel

Charles Harcourt

Charles & Stephen, off Court

Eventually it was all sorted out, bottles of Pol Roger were handed out to our worthy winners (thanks Pol!), we imbibed the rest and I went back to Cambourne which was where I had started the day…

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