Sunday is a day of rest for us all and your trusty courtside Reporter with ink well running dry and struggling for words required 24 hours rest before putting what is left of his pen to paper. Before we get into the heart of what was a special day at the Club your Championship Committee would on your behalf like to thank all those who participated in a glorious 2 weeks from Players and Spectators to Bar teams, Finals Umpires, Mary O’Connell and schedule organisers and of course our effervescent evening ‘treats’ ladies.

It is also appropriate and indeed a pleasure to acknowledge and loudly applaud on all our behalves both Committee and members our 2021 Club President, Barry for setting the goals of rejuvenation & re-connection of the Club and its community, colouring everything that we did and will continue to do following our Covid dictated hibernation. Tone is everything and every since the first sparkle and twinkle of Xmas lights on the balcony it has been nothing but positive. Take a bow boss!

With all that said, what a day we had on Saturday. In blazing sunshine, the 065’s Final started our day with Giles Kerr & Pat Leamy taking the field at 09:30 against Paul Murphy/Joe Cunningham. Michael Butler umpired the match and bounced up the Umpires steps but was heard to say that “He may need assistance on the way down”. Kerr & Leamy flew into an early lead winning the first set 6/3 and bedazzled their opponents with great serving and ground strokes and in the case of Leamy court coverage that would put those half his age to the sword. We awaited a fightback in the 2nd set as Murphy & Cunningham are made of stern stuff only for Giles to suffer a game changing injury causing our Court side assistant Fred O’Neill to apply all sorts of potions and lotions to the afflicted area without success.

On Court at 11:00 stepped both our Plate singles finals with Ian Walker Vs Frank McCooey & Clodagh Lowry against Lisa Morgan. These four set the bar for the rest of the days finals matches delivering on Court 5 & 6 the highest of quality 3 set matches. You knew something was up as a trickle of spectators grew into a stream of tennis aficionados as both matches progressed. Walker took the first set on 5 while won set one on 6. Results were reversed in the both 2nd sets with Lowry clawing her way back into the match and McCooey finding reserves of fitness to take it 7/5. It was all about the ability to stay the course as the mercury rose with the noon day Sun began the effect players. In the end McCooey and Morgan won what were the closest of matches. Quite simply terrific quality and match play of display played in a great sporting spirit.

While all this was in play our 8ups finals were in full flow with first seeds Yvonne Fitzsimons/Liz Murphy Vs 2nd seeds Natalie Doyle/Sarah Jane Lloyd on Jimmy Casey and the father and son pair Ken & Andrew Browne taking on the Clan slayers (Having dispatched Clan McDowell, Gill & Bennett in earlier rounds) young Caoimhin Cronin & Sam Hughes on court 3. As temperatures rose so did the level of play on both courts as we were treated to some wonderful rallies. Lloyd & Doyle pressed and pressurised the number 1 seeds looking to dominate the net at every opportunity while Yvonne & Liz showed years of experience to find great angles and lightness of touch. With Johnny Fitz straining on the balcony over every shot & roaring herself on the number 1 seeds won the first Set 6/4. Natalie and Sarah Jane increased the pressure if that were possible at the start of the 2nd with both looking as they should to put pace on the game and dominate the net. Liz and Yvonne though played a brilliant 2 set and brought years of experience and nous to the match to run out deserved winners and become Champions.

In the Men’s 8 ups we were treated to one of the double matches of the tournament. Hughes and Cronin stunned the Browne boys in the first set with error free tennis to take it 6/4 and stormed into a 2nd set 3 love lead and all looked lost. As Ken was heard to say post-match we threw everything at them and it kept coming back. Andrew and Ken tough are made of stern stuff shorn from many a late Summer battle across the hayfields of Tipp where its never over till it’s bloody well over. With quite words of assurance and determination back they came to test the true mettle of the younger pair as with sublime tennis from both pairs we roared into the tie break. If it was mettle, they were testing for they hit the motherlode as Caoimhin & Sam took a 6 love lead and the Browne’s were surely done for. Crossing the finishing line though does strange things to people and to the incredulity of all before we knew it we were at 6 all in what was now a classic served up by 4 gentlemen who deserve nothing but praise for their final performance. Cronin and Hughes went on to take the tie break and were crowned or Champions for 2021.

Onto our blue ribbon events, the Ladies and Men’s Singles strode Chloe Giacometti Vs Lucy Butler and Oisin O’Hanlon Vs Will Fitzgerald. Arriving on court Chloe and Lucy were all smiles and full of chat breaking any apparent tension while on Jimmy Casey our two combatants were courteous but brief as they greeted each other. Nothing for it but to loosen up on both courts before the start of battle. First up the men’s singles and for most pre match pundits it was too hard to call as Oisin and Will had been equally but in very different ways impressive in previous rounds. Oisin with his gifts of variety of pace and shot against Will with his uncompromising intensity and great athleticism. Oisin started the quicker and won the first set 6/2 with solid tennis while Will’s game was weighted down by errors. Onto the 2nd where both players upped their game and Will started to open the shoulders and find his range. Winners and not errors began to dominate proceedings with game 7 proving pivotal. Oisin absorbed everything that Will could muster on the day and to his great credit delivered an exhibition of match play as he had done in the semi-final against Ivan one based on a variety of speeds, angles and touch so as to not allow his undoubtedly talented opponent find rhythm and this proved to be the difference as he again became of Club singles Champion. Great credit to both players for some wonderful matches & tennis across the two weeks.

In the Ladies final we had a fascinating contest between the number 1 seed Chloe and the unknown but reputationally growing new member Lucy Butler. No one knew what to expect. Many including this scribe believed that Chloe with her movement and destructive forehand would have too much for Lucy. How utterly wrong we were as Lucy from the off took the game to Chloe chasing down every ball and anything played mid court was dispatched with a smile that belied a steely determination. In particular a couple of running down the line passing shots in game 5 took the watching spectators collective breaths away. Chloe as is her way ran everything down even lost causes and this commitment was the difference as she took the first set 6/4. The heat of the day combined with energy sapping rallies stretched both girls to their limits bending their wills to breaking point until finally in game 8 of set two Chloe broke free of Lucy’s grip to take the match and Championship. A brilliant final fought out to the end by worthy on court adversaries. One suspects this is not the end of the sporting story for these two rivals as we head into the 2022 season.

Our double finals completed the day for us with a classic match-up in the Men’s and an equally intriguing match in the ladies. First up the ladies with Chloe and Orla Patton pitted against the very formidable Sandie O’Callaghan & Sarah Riordan Emerson our number 1 seeds. Intriguing by reference as it was clear that Patton & Giacometti possess great athleticism, but could they live with the teamwork & great court management skills of Sarah & Sandie skills that had rightly so made them number 1. This one was all about the first set with Orla and Chloe probing for weaknesses down both flanks but try as they might that could not dominate at net where they needed to if they were to take the title. Sarah and Sandie played beautifully controlled thoughtful and where required ruthless tennis to win it 6/3. Onto the 2nd set we went as pressure began to build on each of Chloe’s and Orla’s service games. This was quality doubles paly from the top seeds as they broke the girls twice to march on and take Championships title in 2 sets.

The men’s doubles had a slightly delayed start as young Will gathered his thoughts following the singles final and then took to Court with his partner and high quality partner Cormac Jennings against the Clubs long held Super Heroes (With capes a tad worn) pairing of Rob Neiland and Steve Gill. The 1st seeds Fitzgerald & Jennings had run ruff shod over all opponents on their March to the final. Neiland and Gill though looked rejuvenated this year and while they played the “ We have little chance” card pre match the full balcony and surrounds of Jimmy Casey knew better. What ensued was a doubles match of the very highest quality. Winners were at a premium & you simply could not take your eye off this one or you would miss yet another wonderful shot. The pronouncements of the Chair umpire Connor O’Reilly as he intoned each point with nuance and subtlety only added to the heat of battle as we all enveloped ourselves in the joy of tennis at its most competitive best. As other matches ended on other courts and with the angst and exhalations of players piercing the air acting as a beacon spectators gravitated to Jimmy Casey and the final set of the tournament. Neiland was in full flow at this stage pounding every shot with fierce first serves pushing both his opponents to their limits while all the while Gill looked to pounce Gazelle like and strike at net. Again though as with every final the seeding committee had hit the mark as Jennings showed why he is so highly rated and with Fitzgerald broke crucially in the 9th game with some brilliant and controlled domination at net asking the toughest of questions of their opponents finding the tiniest of openings splitting our erstwhile heroes to go on to win and terrific victory and be crowned Champions.

And so we come to the end of what has been a memorable and fantastic two Weeks. For this ‘once a year’ hack there is a great sense that the Club that we all love comes out of the 2021 championships with a spring in its step and a pervading sense articulated by many members that ‘Were back’.

To all our great competitors we leave you with the thought that:

“Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering ‘I will try again tomorrow” ― Mary Anne Radmacher

And to us all a quote from James Joyce seen hanging in a famous UCD hall & sourced and delivered to me by a fellow member of the same name.

“Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”

Until next year we bid you all a fond farewell – Your Championship committee 2021