Friday 10th June – Away – Sutton 1
The 1st team travelled to Sutton more in hope than expectation, shorn of sure points winners Ivan Brady and Cormac Jennings. The recent downpour ensured that the new clay courts would be out of action much to the relief of the team.
The singles consisting of Oisin O’Hanlon, Rob Neiland and Louis Hemeryk got off to great starts and were battling hard for each game. On the doubles front Dave Cooney was nursing a bad calf injury but didn’t want to let the team down and turned out to partner Robbie Kernan.
Subbing in for Ivan and Cormac was Ken Browne appearing in Class 1 for his 5th consecutive decade, the old dog for the long road! Unfortunately, Ken and Paul FitzGerald felt their age as one of their younger opponents at 6ft 5in nonchalantly swept a half volley down the line that from a return that would bring plaudits from most Class 3 matches. Off court first were the oldies with a reasonable 6-3, 6-1.
Dave and Robbie soldiered on against a formidable pairing and never gave any quarter in a tough 2 sets. Oisin O’Hanlon has lead the line brilliantly this campaign at No 1 singles competing well with players at the top level of Irish tennis. It’s been a tough ask but great experience. Well done and thanks Oisin. Rob Neiland has found a new lease of life playing some of his best tennis in years but the level of fitness of these youngsters is a sight to behold. Speaking of youngsters, Louis Hemeryk provided a lesson in serving and very nearly took the first set but his opponent now with the advantage of a set up produced some superb retrievals to take the second set and bring to a close the 1st team’s appearance in Class 1. This will be a team to be reckoned with in Class 2 and a return to Class 1 is definitely on the cards.
Sat 11th June 2pm – Away – Leopardstown 2
What a FANTASTIC team, both on and off the court!
On this the last match of the campaign, the selected team now officially includes Ken Browne & Andy Ward who both got three matches in, 3 from 3 for Andy and 2 from 3 for Ken, only a good serve and well-placed volley preventing a 100 % record.
Andy & Brian O’Gorman again partnered up. 6-2, 4-2 down is not a good start though! Energy & determination levels however were high. Brian with fitness levels akin to a Kenyan mountain runner and Andy with youthful athleticism, were determined to turn it around. They did exactly that, the fist pumps after well played points seeming to get to their tiring opponents, a fantastic 2-6 , 7-5, 6-2 turnaround win. Point in the bag.
Already sitting with his feet up on the balcony at this stage, was the mercurial Mark Cunningham. He was in no mood to hang around out there for this one, 6-1, 6-1, leaving his opponent to wonder if another sport might suit better. Point in the bag. What a fantastic campaign by MarC, 4 from 4. Only a desire to palette ‘dutch gold’ directly from the source preventing 5 from 5. Hands off this fella during the transfer window!
Next to finish up on court in 3rd singles was Mark SA, delighted at getting another crack at a singles match, and determined to get a point for the team. Mark, up against his name sake, minus 20 odd years, used the determination and additional years to get a gritty 7-5, 7-6 victory. Ice bath required, but point in the bag.
Our best player, at no.1 singles, has had a tough campaign coming up against seriously good, well-practised players. I think everyone in the team had wished that if anyone would get a win today, it would be JOC. Well he did just that, the forehand was firing and the slice backhand a thing of beauty, a reminder of exactly why he is our no.1. Fantastic performance…..point in the bag.
Last on court, Ken & Sam Hanley at 2nd doubles, a set a piece, and into the final set tie breaker. The champagne was already out at this stage with a 4-0 lead and Class 3 comfortably secured for the following year. Only a good serve and well-placed volley preventing Sam & Ken finishing off a clean sweep.
What a fantastic Team.
Friday 10th June – Away – Malahide 5
Sandycove 3 travelled to play Malahide 5, knowing that 2 points would secure a coveted Class 4 play-off spot. So supremely confident were the Sandycove team that they travelled north with only 5 players, rather than the customary 7 players required for a league match. There were sadly no available subs to circumnavigate the M50 in Friday evening rush hour traffic, despite truly Herculean efforts by all concerned. So Sandycove forfeited no. 2 doubles and began 1 point down before a new tennis ball was even struck. Shane Gill moved up to play no. 3 singles but lost to a strong opponent. Captain Keith O’Byrne won in 2 tight sets at no. 2 singles and secured our first point. Paul Kilduff and Philip Craig won in 2 difficult sets at no. 1 doubles against the two Wright Brothers – the renowned purveyors of fine seafood in Howth. So Sandycove had their desired 2 points and had reached the promised land of a playoff spot.
But the evening was not over. Paul Curran, undefeated to date in the campaign, was playing a 15 year old child prodigy in the no. 1 singles. The match lasted well into the night, so late that the Malahide LTC Karaoke evening began and the two players slugged it out to a background soundtrack of the dubious singing of ABBA, Bee Gees, Queen and Springsteen classics booming from the rocking clubhouse. After 3 hours and 20 mins, and after an unfortunate fall, Paul finally succumbed to the prodigy in the third set, with both exhausted players receiving huge applause from the Heineken-imbibing balcony.
Friday 10th June – Home – Templeogue 5
A crucial relegation survival match for the 4ths against Templeogue on Friday night. Stephen Tilson was first off with a big win in straight sets having moved up to number 1 singles in JP’s absence. Dave Hanley & Iain Walker won a tight first set 6-4 but were beaten in 3 sets. Frank McCooey & Andrew Browne lost out 7-6, 7-5 in a match that could have gone either way, but their opponents won more of the key points.
That left the two Wardlaws on court, both subbing up from the 5ths to play singles. Colin took the first set 6-0, but was beaten 7-5 in the second, and his opponent played an excellent 3rd set to win the match. At number 2 singles Alex lost the first set 6-3, but battled back to win a 2nd set tiebreak and closed out the 3rd set in style 6-3 to win a crucial point for the team, keeping us up in class 4 for another year.
For the last match in the group stage the fifth team were facing LCC 2 who were unbeaten and way ahead in the points race. We were joint second with Monkstown but needed to score higher than them as they beat us 3-2 so that gave them the advantage. We had a full squad except for the fact that we have been one man down due to an unforeseen withdrawal right at the beginning of the campaign, but we were delighted to have Alan Warren subbing to play at No 1 doubles with Des Noctor.
Sat 11th June 2pm – Home – LCC 2
In the singles Caomhin Cronin kept up his fantastic record winning 7-5, 6-2 and coming off court in no time flat. Caomhin has won all of his matches including a couple of extra wins when subbing for higher teams! I fear we might lose him to a higher level for the next campaign. Well done Caomhin. At no. 2 singles Alex Wardlaw had a more difficult proposition being taken to three sets but after losing the first set 6-4 he rallied to win the next two 6-3, 7-5. A brilliant show of quality tennis against a wiley and experienced competitor but Alex’s mental fortitude and superior shot making won out in the end. Congratulation Alex on an excellent campaign.
Meanwhile on Court 3, Dad Colin cruised to a 6-4, 6-2 victory to get the dinner table bragging rights for a change! Down on Court 5 Greg McDowell and Dermot Bennett made short work of their opponents winning 6-4, 6-1. Of course we couldn’t see the action down there but the score says it all. So at 4-0 up there was still the first doubles on court 4.
A titanic struggle where Alan and Des lost the first set 6-1 to a pair of young bucks who played very stylish tennis combined with some big serving. However, our pair weren’t going down without a fight and upped their game with some big serving from Alan and went on to take the second set 6-4. LCC were clearly rattled at this point and set 3 was a tense affair. Sandycove went 5-3 down and all looked lost but Alan’s serves again came to the rescue followed by a love service break to take it back to 5-5 and then on to the tie-break. Sadly our boys fell behind early in the exchange and were unable to recover and finally went down 7-6 in the third. This was the team’s first loss at no 1 doubles and unfortunately it proved fatal as Monkstown also won 4-1 and therefore went through.
Overall a great campaign with some fantastic tennis, especially from our young guns, so the future looks very bright indeed.
Sat 11th June 2pm – Away – Clontarf 7
The Battle of Clontarf on Saturday saw STC6 and Clontarf 7 vying for relegation. In the end Clontarf won and were relegated and Sandycove lost and stayed up, such were the vagaries of other results in Class V.
The story of this campaign was one of widespread unavailability. With the honourable exception of the Baileys, who played every match, there was a reliance on subs and Paul Sinnott and Liam Hurley answered the call with alacrity on Saturday, as they always do.
The two Sandycove points in this match were secured by Roy Bailey in singles and Conor O’Reilly & Jim O’Hanlon in doubles.
A big thank you to everyone who played throughout the campaigns and in particular to those who subbed in, many travelling to far away lands.
Paul and Greg