Thursday, 28 February 2013

National League 2012/13


On Saturday 16th February Nick and I hosted the strong Queen's team of World Number 4 Bryn Sayers and Andrew Fowler filling-in for the injured Andrew Lyons.

Before the first match started Nick took the 35 or so HRP and HCP members who had purchased tickets for the evening onto court for a quick 10 minute intro to the game of Real Tennis. All up we had a strong crowd of around 60 spectators.

The first match was Nick taking on fellow Aussie Andrew Fowler currently working at the Queen's Club after having a recent stint at Bristol and Bath.
A small handicap of 2 was being used as there was a handicap difference of greater than 4.5, leaving Nick with giving away Owe 1/2 15. Andrew started very well and was really taking up to Nick and raced through the 1st set 6/1. I hadn't seen too much of this set as I had been spending some time in the Pro Office with the lights out as I was trying to rid myself of a headache. The next time I came out to hear the score Nick was 4/1 down but as all good players do found a way to get back into the match. Nick fought back to level at 5/5, 40 all, Match point for Andrew. It wasn't to be, Nick pinched the set 6/5 and raced away with the 3rd 6/2 to clinch the first rubber for RTC.

Next up I took on Bryn again off a small handicap of 3 (rec 1/2 15).
I started strongly by taking the 1st game with a strong Chisholm like main-wall volley return of serve into the Dedans. We were exchanging rallies and chases in what felt like a very fast passed game of tennis. I remember beating a chase with a straight force into the top F/H corner that felt like the hardest shot I've ever hit. But I found myself 3/1 down and needing to dig deep to stay in the set. I did just that and a few games later levelled at 4/4 and then through to 5/4 40-0 and set points to me for my 1st set off Bryn in all competitions (albeit with a slight handicap advantage). It wasn't to be as I had done a few games earlier Bryn came back at me and took the set 6/5.
My slight drop in concentration with the disappointment of not taking the set Bryn took the 2nd set 6/2 to level the evening up and 1 rubber all.
This is the 5th time since the European Open last October I had faced Bryn in competition. Considering how I was feeling an hour before the match I was hitting and moving well. Bryn is such a great player after winning 2 Opens to date and I feel that each match against him I'm gaining greater experience.

After a short break for spectators to have a bite of the super supper Fluer had prepared in the kitchen it was time for the doubles and a deciding rubber for the evening.
It was probably the best doubles Nick and I have played together as a pair and we took the match 8/5 after s strong start that saw us get away to 5/1.

We thank all the support from the spectators on a successful night as we took the match 2 rubbers to 1. Our two remaining matches are away to Prested Hall March 7th and home to Prested Hall on April 13th. We can finish anywhere from 1st to 3rd but a finals berth is all but guaranteed.


Friday, 8 February 2013

National League 2012/13


Nick and I headed up to Hatfield House Real Tennis Club last night Thursday 7 Feb for our 3rd match in the Premier Division National League and picked up our 1st overall win.

The night started with Nick taking on Head Pro Jonathan Dawes. The two lets say 'more experienced' players of the evening had a very close and entertaining match. Jonathan started the stronger and got out to a 3/0 lead before Nick pegged him back and from that point on there wasn't more than a 2 game gap between them. Nick was able to keep a cool head and closed out the match 6/5 6/5. RTC 1-0.

Next up was my rematch with Ben Matthews after he defeated me at RTC in January. Ben also got out to a 3/0 lead after a bit of a slow start from myself. But very similar to the 1st set of the night I was able to bridge the gap and levelled at 4/4. I had been able to get into a bit of a grove serving down my Railroad and throwing the odd side wall Railroad to get Ben moving backwards. I was also starting to find the Dedans from the Hazard end. But when playing such a quality player you can't lose games from 40-15 up and that happened two many times in the 1st set and Ben was able to take it 4/6.
I started strongly in the 2nd set and got rid of some unforced errors and was finding the targets as well as having a bit of a rub of the green. Ben had probably had enough when I hit an attempted main-wall force that was so far off target that it clipped the net tape and then held it's line to still find it's way passed Ben's racket into the Dedans. 2nd set 6/1 and now into a decider.
I was in good form and raced to a 3/0 lead in the 3rd set only for Ben to start to find the Dedans himself and although I should of gone 4/1 up it was Ben who went 3/4 up after stringing 4 games together. I kept my composure levelled at 4/4 with a game to love, only to go behind again. 4/5 Ben. A close game to level at 5/5 in the final set and one game to decide the match. 30 all worse than 1 and better than 2 as I head to the service end to try and close out the match. Ben has other ideas and wins the 1st chase by forcing hard and straight at the Dedans as I can't get enough racket on it to get it over the net. Match point Ben, I serve a good serve and Ben can't get anywhere near the Dedans and we're back at deuce. Ben gets a chase of 2nd Gallery and then I win a point to go to match point. We swap ends and as I return the ball Ben tries to pick off a Hazard gallery to win the chase but thankfully clips the net post and the match is mine and a win over the world number #6. 4/6 6/1 6/5. 2-0 RTC

A dead rubber in the doubles with Hatfield taking a very close set of doubles tennis 6/8 to stop us taking maximum points for the night.
All in all a very successful away trip. 2 rubbers to 1 RTC....

Nick and I want to say a BIG thank you to a couple of members who made the journey up to support 2 thirds of their Pro Team at Hatfield. Owen Saunders and Richard and Judy Gilbert Thank you.

Hatfield sit on top of the table after playing 5 of their 6 matches and winning 3 of those. RTC sit 2nd with 3 matches played 1 point ahead of our next opponent the Queen's club who are two win's from as many matches. 4th placed Prested Hall have also played two matches and are yet to bring up a win.
Top of the table will move straight into the Final and 2nd v 3rd will play-off to see who faces them at season's end.

Watch this space...


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Tennis Update - US Open and National League


I thought I would include a quick update on most things tennis after the completion of the US Open in Philadelphia last month.

Camden Riviere continued his winning ways since his return from injury adding the 2013 US Open to his 2012 US Pro Singles, French, European, IRTPA and the 2013 US National Championships. He has now moved up into the number 2 spot in the World Rankings with #3 Steve Virgona, #4 Bryn Sayers, #5 Tim Chisholm, #6 Ben Matthews and #7 Kieran Booth.
100 points is required for an official World Ranking and I currently have 81 points. Although the ranking system is to be changed January 2014, my current ranking points have me placed number #9 in the new system.

With 5 tournaments remaining in the current World Championship Race it looks to be heading for Camden vs Tim and Steve vs Bryn in the 1st round of the WC Eliminators in February 2014. The two winners facing off in the Final Eliminator in March and the only man standing to take on Rob Fahey (yet again!) in May 2014.

Nick Wood and I have a couple of Premier National League matches in the next 2 weeks. The 1st of them an away match against Hatfield on Thursday 7th February. I get to take on Ben Matthews after he piped me in 3 sets at RTC in mid January. Nick will take on Jonathan Dawes.
The 2nd is a home match against the very strong Queen's Team of World number 4 Bryn Sayers and the very talented/ambidextrous Andrew Lyons on Saturday February 16th - The poster is below.
Nick and I will be hoping to get a win under our belts after already playing both these teams once. We then take on Prested Hall in March and April.