Thursday, 17 November 2016

British Open 2016


I first met Rob Fahey the then undisputed Real Tennis World Champion days prior to the 2008 Australian Open while I was working at RMTC. I had only been in the game 3 months and Rob walked into the Pro Shop offered his hand and said you must be Chappers.
It sounds like a bit of a cliché but from that moment on Rob became one of my sporting idols. He was dominating the game and had been for a long time. I watched him practice leading into the Tournament and as an 18 or so handicap I had the opportunity to play him in the 2nd round of the Aus Open. He quickly defeated me 6/0 6/0 6/0 in what felt like about 15 mins...

Fast forward to the summer of 2013 barley less than a year before his 2014 World Championship defence was due to take place, Rob asked me to be his official practice partner in the lead up to and including heading to Melbourne. I ate up every minute on court with Rob twice, sometimes three times, a week practicing at The Queen's Club. The 14' World Championship was amazing to be apart of from inside the Fahey camp and what a defence it was!!!
Rob and I continue to practice all the way through to the 2016 World Championship that ultimately he would relinquish after 22 years as the World Champion.

Since September 2014 at the French Open where I took my 1st set of tennis off Rob in competitive play I've had the goal of trying to defeat Rob. I've come close on two particular occasions but at the end of the day was always left without the W, Until yesterday...

Quarterfinal - Thursday 17th November vs Rob Fahey
I started strongly and had a clear plan of serving my Giraffe serve and to spend as little time as possible at the Hazard end. After taking the 1st set 6/3 I was perhaps a little hyped up and forced things to happen a little. 2nd set to RF 2/6.
Although I lost the set it brought me back to a clear focus for the start of the 3rd set and what a set of tennis; It was tight, tough and long. Without yet watching the replay it's possibly the best set of tennis I've played. In the past this is the stage where Rob has taken the match away from me. I take the important 3rd 6/5 and I now hold a 2 sets to 1 lead for the 1st time over Rob.
The 4th was again tight and the 3 hour mark came and went. at 3 all I won two crucial games to go to a 5/3 lead and 4 points from the match. It's safe to say there were some nervy emotions flying about in my head. I kept telling myself to embrace the moment. The 9th game felt like it went on forever as Rob made me earn everything. He has this uncanny ability in the tight moments and when he's somewhat under pressure to make life a living hell on a tennis court for his opponent. I held one match ball in the 9th game but RF took it to close to 4/5. I can't remember much about the start of the last game other than I put up a couple of really good serves. We changed ends with me leading 40-15 trying to beat a gallery chase. I carved a well hit cut volley into the tape which I believe would of beaten Rob into the corner, 40-30, this time I hit a good return, RF digs it back and I slightly over hit a backhand volley that catches the nick and RF hits the ball into the net. I stood for a few seconds almost shaking in disbelief before walking to the net to shake Rob's hand after my 1st Win over Rob Fahey 6/3 2/6 6/5 6/4.

I am into my first British Open Semifinal to face another fellow Aussie and my doubles partner Steve Virgona Saturday at 2pm.

Stay tuned


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

British Open 2016


The British Open is now underway with the early rounds. For those that haven't been to the Queen's Club to watch the Open won't realise that there is a new edition to the championship court in that the Queen's Club added 3 big glass windows above the service end back penthouse; it is a great spot to watch the Tennis from. I highly recommend that you make the journey down to the Queen's Club over the next 5 or so days and catch the best tennis played in the country this year.

Round of 16 - Tuesday 15th
This years opponent in my 1st round was a tricky one in the form of the very talented Ricardo Smith from Prested Hall. Although Ricardo is playing much more Padel Tennis (the Spanish game) than Real Tennis Ricardo was always going to be a tricky customer. Ricardo had also had the opportunity to play a competitive match on Sunday where he beat local Professional Andrew Fowler in straight sets.

After a slow start where I not only found myself 2/5 down but also at 0-40 facing 3 set points, I finally found some form and came back to take what proved to be a vital 1st set 6/5.
I continued the form of late in the 1st set to rattle off the 2nd set 6/2. The 3rd set was tight struggle but importantly I was able to keep my nose in front the whole way, at 3 all I went 4/3 up and again at 4 all I went 5/4 up, when the 10th game of the set began I was importantly at the service end where I put up some good serves and was able to get a couple of cheap points to clinch the match in straight sets 6/5 6/2 6/4. A very tricky match out of the way.
I had planned to serve a fast railroad serve but I just couldn't get it on the money and ended up relying on a mixture of Bobble 1st serves and the occasional Giraffe serve. It's actually the 1st time in my career where I have served the Bobble as a 1st serve. Ricardo was using it early in the match and after a while I had decided to do it as well with what turned out to be great effect.

I now move on to play the winner of the Rob Fahey v John Lumley match in the Quarter Finals where I have to admit I'm preparing to play the old Champ. I am still looking for my 1st victory over Fahey and I believe its not far away...
The match is scheduled for 2pm GMT and streaming is available on the T&RA YouTube channel

Hope to see you at the Open in the coming days


Tuesday, 8 November 2016

October Update


With the British Open now only a few weeks away I thought it would be time for a quick update covering the;
- French Open
- Current training
- National League
- British Open

- It has now been over a month since a very disappointing French Open which was a tough pill to swallow for a week or so after losing to Kieran Booth (WR #8) in the Quarterfinals.
Kieran played extremely well especially the 5 all games in both the 2nd and 3rd sets but ultimately it was far from my best performance...

- Since the French Open my training has been going really well on and off court.
I've been continuing an explosive-strength program twice a week as well as an agility session once a week with a 'real' sport specific element.
On court Josh and I have really been focusing on some target hitting and the keeping of records in a  skills session. There are two reasons why we've added at least 2 skills sessions a week, 1) because poor Josh is having trouble with his ankle again and has been struggling in our rallying sessions, 2) I'm trying to learn from my Paris performance where I wasn't as positive in choice or execution in my game plan.
I've also been getting on court with Ben Taylor-Matthews on a Tuesday morning either at Leamington or a London court like Queen's or Lords which will be really beneficial for the two of us. On a Friday I've been getting on court with Bryn Sayers at Queen's which is always a great workout even with Bryn competing less these days.

- The IRTPA National League is back in action this season in a bit of a mix of Premier Division and Division 1.
The Premier type teams are Leamington (Ben Taylor-Matthews & Robert Shenkman), Holyport (Rob & Claire Fahey) and RTC (myself & Nick Hatchett).
The Div 1 type teams are Manchester (Darren Long & Zak Eadle), Cambridge (Ed Kay & Jamie Giddons), Wellington (Peter Wright & Adam Player) and Petworth (Tom Durack & Louis Gordon).
The Premier teams all play each other home and away and then play each of the Div 1 teams once either home or away. The Premier 1st string players also give an Owe15 H'cap to the Div 1 1st string players to even things up a little bit but keep it in the Premier guys favour.

So far RTC's first two matches have been our most difficult opponents in Leamington and Holyport. On Wednesday 19th October we hosted Leamington at RTC where I defeated Ben T-Matthews 6/1 6/0 in a bit of a surprise with both Ben and I so close in World Ranking at 6 & 7. my teammate in Nick Hatchett unfortunately went down 1 set to 2 which means we lost as the away team gets the Win when its one rubber all.
Thursday 27th October we headed to Holyport where I defeated Ricardo Smith, filling in for Rob Fahey, 6/4 6/4 in what is hopefully good preparation as I'm likely to play Ricardo in my 1st match of the British Open. Nick H played extremely well but went down to Claire Fahey 3/6 5/6. but again this time as the away team we get the chocolates...
Wednesday 2nd we again headed out for another away match. Unfortunately Nick had to retire injured after winning the first set 6/5 after tweaking a hip. I have Tom Durack an owe 15 handicap and Tom played very well on his home court as I only just snuck the first set before winning in straight sets to keep my 100% record in tact after three National League matches 6/5 6/3

Our next home match is Friday 11th November where we will be hosting Manchester. Tickets are always available via our Pro's Office.

- The British Open draw has been out for a little over a week and can be found on the IRTPA website
As mentioned I'm likely to play Ricardo after he most likely defeats a qualifier in the 1st round. On seeding if I was to continue through the draw my likely opponents are Rob Fahey (QTR), Steve Virgona (SF) and Camden Riviere (F). But anyone on their day can cause upsets as seen in the recent French Open.
Steve Virgona and I set about defending our British Open Doubles title. The defence of this title is going to be a tough one but I know Steve and I will be looking forward to the challenge. We will most likely have a rematch of last years final in the Semi Final against Sayers/Smith and then either the Doubles World Champions in Riviere/Chisholm or the team of Fahey/Stout in the Final.
It's actually the 1st Real Tennis title I will have had the chance to defend. I won the 2011 US Pro satellite tournament and have been a seeded player since and ineligible for the satellite. I also won the 2011 Category A (0-9's) at Oxford but have had a H'cap in the +'s since and again been ineligible to play.

Tickets are always available for the British Open via the Tennis and Rackets website


Friday, 9 September 2016


The 2016-17 season is finally around the corner.

It's been a long few months with only one tournament since February. I have done a mountain of work in the off season with my trainer Gareth. We have worked on various things but mainly working on my endurance through different strength and cardio sessions. I had a particularly hard 4 week block of training through August, my on court practice definitely suffered through fatigue but now that I'm out the other side of that block and in a more tennis specific block leading into the French Open the on court practice feels like it has improved greatly.

In particular today was a good day in terms of preparation into the French. I had a 7.30am session with Gareth at The Sports Village - Sutton where we did some explosive footwork exercises over a 45 minute session.
At 12pm I had a two hour session with Rob Fahey at the new Wellington College real tennis court on my way to Leamington to have a challenge match vs Ben Taylor-Matthews. Even with the busy day I had I felt nice and sharp around the court. Ben didn't have his best day and I took the match 6/3 6/1 for a good result leading into the French Open on an away court.

With a few players opting out of the French Open this year I have been seeded in the number 4 position.  The French Open runs from the 18th-25th September
My 1st round opponent is a qualifier on Sunday 18th. If I keep working through the draw my likely opponent through seeding would be a Quarterfinal against World Number 8 (5th seed) Kieran Booth who I've had some lengthy battles with in the past. Last time we met was a 4 set win in a Semifinal of the 2015 Australian Open in Melbourne.
The winner getting a chance to play the new World Champion in Camden Riviere in a Semifinal. Last time I played Camden was unfortunately a straight sets loss at the 2016 US Open in Chicago.
In the other half of the draw the players seeded to reach the Semifinal are Rob Fahey and Ben Taylor-Matthews.
Both the singles and doubles draws can be found on the IRTPA fixtures page

I'm very much looking forward to the next season and a half as I try to qualify for the 2018 World Championship Eliminators.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Catching Up

I'm far over due for a blog post with quite a lot happening since my last post last summer.

Open Doubles Champion; 
I was lucky enough to pick up my 1st major piece of silverware last November at the 2015 British Open winning the doubles with Steve Virgona. 
I was even able to back it up at the 2016 Australian Open winning the title with Rob Fahey.

2016 World Championship;
Unfortunately I wasn't involved in the 2016 edition after narrowly missing out on the eliminators but I was fortunate enough to again be a part of Team Fahey as he tried to defend his title for the 12th time. Camden Riviere proved far too good over the 3 day best-of-13-set match and became the new World Champion. A very deserving World Champion after dominating the game over the past few years. Rob had an unbelievable run of 22 years as the World Champion but all good things must come to an end.

Summer training;
With the level of fitness Camden has taken his game to, I have been working with my trainer Gareth Shelbourne who has been working me harder than I've ever worked before to try and bridge the gap to the top guys as I work towards making the 2018 World Championship Eliminators.

New Sponsor;
I am pleased to announce that a few days ago I joined Gold Leaf Athletics team which operates out of the USA to use their racquets going forward. It's very exciting opportunity to be involved with a new brand as Golf Leaf Athletics is new to the Real Tennis world and has only been up and running for around 12 months. Camden Riveire the new World Champion is also proudly supported by Gold Leaf. 

Upcoming Schedule;
The first tournament of the season is only a few weeks away with the French Open in Paris and after a long summer of training it can't come quick enough...
The IRTPA Championship is looking likely to move to the new year to free up this latter part of the year for the American based players while the European Open is hopeful of going ahead in its usual October slot although nothing is confirmed and of course the British Open is to go ahead in mid November at The Queen's Club. 
UK National League is back in a bit of mix between Premier Division and Division 1. Myself and Nick Hatchett will be representing The Royal Tennis Court with 4 matches at RTC between September and April. Dates to follow

Thanks for tuning in,