It was a sunny glorious warm October Sunday morning when our three qualified men’s teams, the 3rds, 5ths and 7ths entered the fray for promotion. With a full balcony and terrific support from members our 3 qualified teams headed into their matches full of confidence and resplendent in the new Club gear.
First up at 9.30 was Tom O’Higgins’ 7th team who came into this last 16 playoff after impressive performances in the section. Bective 2nds were the opposition and as always Tom led from the front with himself and Andrew Browne showing calmness and confidence in taking the first 6-3. After a slower than usual start Cian O’Higgins and the freely hitting Paddy Dempsey reeled in their cagey opponents to also take the first set 7-5. With Dermot Bennett and Steve McGoohan providing the hard hitting dynamic on Court 2 as they raced through the first set 6-3. All looked very positive at this point but as we learned later in the morning, winning the first set in all three matches does not guarantee the final outcome. But this team are destined for greater things and eased their way into the quarter finals with Tom and Andrew’s never in doubt 6-2 second set providing the impetus for brother Cian not to be outdone and himself and Paddy were soon off court to take pressure off Steve and Dermot who were gaining the upper hand in the third set.
But the drama was only starting!
Next up at 11am were Frank McCooey’s fifth team and Ken Browne’s 3rd team, in this case ably led by the young Sam Hanley.
The 5ths were up against a multinational Naas team but Frank and Iain Walker were quick out of the blocks winning the first set comfortably 6-1. The highly regarded youngsters, Caomhin Cronin and Sam Hughes were getting into their stride although losing the first set it was clear they were primed for a second set onslaught and they claimed it 6-1. Simon Lloyd and Jim O’Hanlon were up against stiff opposition from Portugal and the Philippines but were always in the match although losing the first set 6-3. It was nip and tuck as Jim showed all his deft touches at the net and Simon rallied valiantly from the back of the court but the opposition were worldly wise and took a tightly contested second set to provide Naas with a foothold into the quarters. Having lost a highly contentious second set, Frank and Iain girded their loins for a full out assault on the third set and took it comfortably 6-2. Caomhin and Sam were up against seasoned performers from Naas and put up a real battle but there will be many more opportunities for them in the future. A valiant effort by all bodes well for the team in the next instalment of the Winter League in January.
The 3rd team faced an impressive David Lloyd Riverview team and it looked as if this may have been a step too far for this well fancied team as all matches lost the first set. Luke Bennet and Sam Hanley may have been dazzled by their opponents unusual tennis attire and lost the first set 6-3. Mark Fourie and Philip Craig came up against a duo of brick walls as their renowned ground strokes were being returned with interest and succumbed in a tight first set. On Court 3 Paul Kilduff and Stephen Tilson watched as unreturnable serves were coming from all angles as their big hitting opponents bludgeoned their way to a 6-1 first set. All looked a little bleak at this stage and but famous Sandycove balcony provided all the encouragement required. Having taken on the captains role in name Sam then played the role on court. Fighting for every point they clawed their way back into the match with a very tight second set 6-4. The tension was rising further as Stephen and Paul chased down every ball and edged a tight tie break in the second. Philip and Mark battled through but the power and accuracy of their opponents was impressive and they took the second set and the match. Cometh the hour cometh the men. Sam and Luke had got in to their stride and were providing great entertainment for the balcony with their controlled power game. It was now all down to Court 3. The rock solid pairing of Stephen and Paul are not what you want to come up against in the final set of promotion decider. They held their nerve as the balcony held its breath. What a finish to a great mornings tennis with two teams promoted!
Next Sunday at 11am both teams are at home with the 3rds taking on Stackallen and the 7ths up against Castleknock. All support welcome and needed so if you are free make your way down. The tension may not be repeatable, but then again!!