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Real Tennis World Championship

Posted on May 5, 2018 | in Event, Membership | by

Championship Point

Championship Point….

Last Saturday afternoon I went to Cambridge University Real Tennis Club (CURTC) where I am a member and watched The Real Tennis World Championship Final on a big (-ish) screen along with 30 or so other members. Every one of us was rooting for Australian Rob Fahey to regain the World title he lost two years ago to American Camden Riviere. Rob has dominated the sport of Real Tennis for the last 25 years and was World Champion from 1994 to 2016. In 2016 he lost his title (7-2) to Riviere on Riviere’s home court at Newport, Rhode Island. It appeared that at the age of 48 Fahey might find it difficult to continue to compete at the very highest level with the man 18 years his junior.

The scoring in Real Tennis is broadly similar to Lawn Tennis although the game itself is radically different. It would take too long to explain those differences here so please Google it if you want to know more. The World Championship is played every two years and this year was held at the Queen’s Club in London. Rob Fahey made it to the final to challenge Camden Riviere for the title. The final is best of 13 sets and is played over three separate days.

On Tuesday it looked as Riviere’s new dominance would continue as he finished the first session 3 sets to 1 in the lead. On Thursday in the second session amazingly Rob Fahey won all 4 sets to earn himself an overall 5-3 lead. Only two more sets needed and he would be World Champion once again!

In the third and final session on Saturday it did not start well for Fahey when he lost the first set 6-5 after leading 4-0 and 5-2. Riviere won the second set 6-0 to square things up at 5 sets all and it looked as if those of us watching in Cambridge would soon be applauding gallant runner up Rob Fahey and murmuring what a great World Champion he had been in the past but how even he couldn’t combat the passing of the years. (Something most of us in the audience were all too familiar with!)

But we of little faith were made to eat our thoughts as Fahey won the next two sets 6-3, 6-3 to take the match 7 sets to 5! He won the final point by hitting the ball into the winning gallery – you’ll have to Google that as well. There was much jubilation at CURTC as Rob Fahey was once again World Champion – two days short of his 50th birthday. Although he was born in Hobart, Tasmania, Rob is very much seen as the ‘local lad’ at the Cambridge club. He played several seasons for the Cambridge team and was frequently seen around the club where he was well liked by everyone who met him. He is a worthy Champion and hopefully the wider sporting world will give him the recognition he deserves.

I love playing Real Tennis and now know what a delight it can be to watch as well – even if (no, ‘because’) it was unrecognizable as the same game I play. The play was of the supremely highest level and Rob Fahey’s victory and the manner in which he achieved it must rate as the finest comeback in Real Tennis and arguably across all sports.

Dave Dove


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