Friday, 22 November 2013

2013 Neptune British Open - Queen's Club


Yesterday was a tough day at the office, well court... It was quarter final day at the Open one of the biggest days on our tennis calendar and I was up against Tim Chisholm the number 4 seed in this years Open as the number 8 seed myself it was probably my best opportunity to date to make a British Open semi final.

Unfortunately I was up against Tim Chisholm one of the cleanest strikers of a Real Tennis ball the game has ever seen! I went into the match with good confidence after Tuesday's promising performance.

I started the 1st set well trying to keep the ball on the floor and make the ageing body of Tim to twist and turn in the corners. We went game for game and I was feeling good about the way the match was going, this was until Tim decided he'd had enough of the rallying and decided to become almost impossible to serve to. I was serving a mixture of Demi Piques and heavily cut side walls from around the last gallery half way between the middle court line and the main wall. But Tim found his range and started forcing for the Dedans of the volley. All of a sudden the 1st set had disappeared 3/6.

The 2nd set was also disappearing quickly and found myself 0/4 down not only was Tim returning so well but his choice of high serve was unplayable at times. I was now making some errors they would go down as unforced errors on a stats sheet but the perceived pressure Tim was placing on me made some of the errors as forced errors. At 0/4 down I decided it was time for a new serve and went to a high serve of my own. This allowed me to get back into some points and it felt like it was back to the start of the 1st set where we were going point for point. Tim still hit a few Dedans of the return but no where as many as the previous 7 games. I couldn't stop Tim taking the 2nd set but felt I was back into a rhythm. 2/6 and 0-2 down in sets.

Things just weren't going my way, a number of times I missed the Grille or Dedans by inches which at this level hurts and hurts bad as a player of Tim's standard makes you pay. I found myself 0/3 down but was playing some decent tennis. All night I had lost a number of deuce games and this continued in the 3rd set. I fought back to 2/3 and had a couple of game points for 3/3 but just couldn't capitalise. Tim went 2/4 up but I kept plugging away and trying to stay in the match but I couldn't stop Tim often enough to win enough games to really push him. 3/6 2/6 2/6

Although disappointed to have lost, there are some promising things to come out of this match. Josh filmed the 2nd and 3rd sets and I have watched the footage after arriving home. I will keep working at my game and keep trying to chase these guys in front of me in the rankings.

Next up is doubles today at 2pm. Kieran Booth is my partner and we're very much looking forward to our 1st round against James Male and Andrew Lyons. Quite interestingly, for anyone who has seen these two guys play will have noticed that both players are ambidextrous with Andrew playing two F/H's right and left handed and James playing double handed both sides so effectively playing a right and left handed B/H. James was also World Rackets Champion between 1988-99 so has one hell of an eye for a ball so should make for a very fun doubles match.



Wednesday, 20 November 2013

2013 Neptune British Open - Queen's Club


Yesterday Tuesday 19th was my 1st match in the 2013 British Open Championships. As a seeded player (#8) for the 1st time at a British Open I was at a small disadvantage due to the fact my 1st opponent Conor Medlow the 9th best player in the draw had already played two competitive matches, A singles on Sunday and a doubles on Monday. It doesn't sound like much and of course I had 6 hours of practice late last week at Queen's but practicing and competing is a very different thing.

Due to this I knew that I had to come out of the blocks early and hit the scoreboard. The other problem associated with playing young Conor (I can say young as he is 21 and I'm the ripe old age of 28...) is that he is left handed, He is as deadly as anything if he is able to take the return of serve on his F/H so getting him to return on the B/H was of great importance.
Going into the match, plan A was to try and serve a railroad to get him either volleying the return or scrapping the ball off the side wall on the B/H but as I served my 1st few railroads I quickly realised this just wasn't the serve tonight as it wasn't kicking back and he could turn on each serve and have a free shot at the Dedans. Plan B was to serve a side wall serve from mid court that forced him onto the B/H volley return which paid dividends almost immediately as I raced out to a 4/1 lead in the 1st set. This was after getting smashed on the bridge of the nose from a Conor force that ricocheted off the bandeau above the Dedans on the 2nd point of the match.
Conor then strung a few games together and after having a game point on a Hazard Chase which which have meant i was 5/1 up we were now locked at 4 all in the 1st set. I really had to dig deep as I didn't want to let this 1st set go. It is exactly what I did and I took the 1st set 6/4.

After taking the important 1st set I lost my way a little bit and when one losses discipline in shot selection and game plan this game has a habit of biting you on the backside, throw in a talented guy who can hit plenty of Grilles and Dedans and all of a sudden the 2nd set disappears. 2/6, One set all and game on.

After a loo break and change of shirt it was time to get back to it. I had prepared my body for 5 hours of tennis if that's what it was going to take and knew that I had to trust in my game a little more and tried to lengthen out the points by keeping it on the floor. I started the 3rd set well and leading 2/1 we had a marathon 4th game which I reckon is the longest single game I've ever played. I've been told it went on for 23 minutes and after exchanging game points and lots of chases I was able to take the game. The loss of this game must of hurt him because the next 3 games came fairly quickly as I took the 3rd set for a 2-1 lead 6/1.

I continued on this run of games, I had also found another good serve that was limiting him to B/H volley returns basically a shortish under arm twist again using the side wall. I managed to get out to 5/0 lead before he made a mini charge of which saw him have 2 game points to get to 5/2 but I was able to stop him doing so and take the match in 4 sets. 6/4 2/6 6/1 6/1

This sets up a Quarter final on Thursday 21st at 4pm most likely against Tim Chisholm (#4) who plays another youngster in Frenchman Matthieu Sarlangue on Wednesday.

It was great to see a number of RTC faces at Queen's to cheer me on whilst having a few frothys.... There was even an Aussie, Aussie, Aussie at one point.


Chris ('The Chappers')

Sunday, 17 November 2013

2013 Neptune British Open - Queen's Club


Today sees the start of the 2013 Neptune British Open held at the Queen's Club in London. 5 singles matches kick off this years Open today Sunday 17th November and finishes with the Doubles final on Tuesday 26th.

This is my 5th British Open and the 1st time I'm not playing on the 1st Sunday as it's the 1st time I've been seeded for the Open at number 8. Seedings are Rob Fahey (1), Steve Virgona (2), Bryn Sayers (3), Tim Chisholm (4), Ben Matthews (5), Kieran Booth (6), Ricardo Smith (7) and myself.

I'm due to play the winner of the talented amateur Conor Medlow h'cap 0 and Queen's Club pro Andrew Fowler h'cap 5 on Tuesday 19th 5pm. Tim Chisholm is in my Quarter and Steve Virgona in the same half of the draw as myself, so I will be looking to get my game face on come Tuesday and put in a good performance to give my self every opportunity to win the match and progress through the tournament.

In this year's Open Doubles I'm partnering fellow Aussie and number 1 amateur in the world Kieran Booth. we've been seeded at number 4. The other seeds are Fahey/Virgona (1), Sayers/Chisholm (2), Matthews/Smith (3), Chapman/Booth (4), A Lyons/J Male (5) and J Lumley/Medlow (6). The top 4 seeds are seeded through to the quarter finals where we are most likely to meet Lyons/Male on Friday 22nd 2pm into Sayers/Chisholm in a semi final Sunday 24th also at 2pm.

Draws are placed in the office and the new notice board near the Dedans door and we'll be keeping them updated.

Hope to see some friendly faces at Queen's during the week for some support and if you do please always make some noise....



Sunday, 10 November 2013

Playbrave Super Series


Friday 1st November saw the second instalment of the Playbrave Super Series being hosted by Leamington Real Tennis club, played in front of a very healthy crowd.

I was first on court taking on world number 4 Bryn Sayers. I had started a little slowly to say the least... I was 0/4 down before I knew it and knew that if I didn't turn it around the match (a 10 game set) could be over before long! At that stage I knew I needed to keep the ball in play and make sure I at least made Bryn hit some winners, at this same point the crowd really got behind me as a few quid was potentially changing hands due to some friendly wagers. I took the game to be 1/4 and the roof including the penthouse's nearly lifted off the court... I was now really getting into the match and started hitting the ball a lot cleaner and was able to string a number of good games together and found myself 7/6 up at which point a question from the dedans 'were you hustling us at 0/4 down?'
Bryn found another gear and took 3 games in a row and I now trailed 7/9 and rallied again closing the gap to 8/9 but unfortunately went down in a close match 8/10.

Next up was Ben Matthews v Ricardo Smith. Ricardo had mentioned upon arriving in Leamington that he can't remember the last time he was this far north of Essex... He played like he didn't quite know where he was losing 10/1 to Ben in double quick time!

To finish off the night we played an exhibition doubles where I partnered up with Bryn Sayers against Ben and Ricardo. We had plenty of fun rallies and the crowd absolutely loved it from the reaction we got after most rallies and then following the last point.

A big thank you to the Leamington club for hosting the 2nd evening of the PlayBrave Super Series. It was a very fun evening and looking forward already to the next time I get to play again at the club.

The next Super Series is on the 6th December at Moreton Morrell following the British Open at Queen's Club which starts in only a week.



Friday, 1 November 2013

Quick tennis update


Tonight Friday 1st November sees the 2nd instalment of the super series. Tonight's venue is Leamington and we look forward to entertaining the locals this evening. 
I face Bryn Sayers in my singles match, Ben Matthews faces Ricardo Smith in a 10 game set before we play an exhibition doubles. 
Ben currently sits in top of the standings by game difference to Ricardo with Bryn 3rd and myself looking to get off the foot of the table. It should be a great evening. 

On another note the draw for the British Open singles and doubles has been completed. On a personal note I've been seeded 8th in the singles and due to face the winner of talented Conor Medlow and the experience of fellow Aussie big red Andrew Fowler on Tuesday 19th 5pm at the Queen's club. 
Doubles sees me partnering Kieran Booth again a fellow Aussie who is world number 6 and a very solid doubles player. We've been seeded 4th and due to most likely face Andrew Lyons and James Male in our opening round of the quarter finals. 
Draws can be found on the IRTPA website and there will be draws on the notice boards early next week.