The courts have been swept, nets checked, the balcony fumigated and the Deep Heat bought in bulk. The Sandycove Championships are back for the 2022 installment.

First out of the blocks at 10am on a humid Sunday morning was Andrew Percival and Tom Wall in the men’s singles. Great to see Andrew back playing in Sandycove after his stint boarding in Clongowes but in this match he came across the greatly improved Tom Wall who took a hard hitting match in two long sets.

Also starting at 10am was new member John Harrington taking on Mark Gill, a recent finalist in the handicaps. Mark could not regain the heights of the Handicaps and John, who had obviously been tuning up his game in London, played some very elegant tennis to progress to the next round.

Mark’s brother Shane was playing alongside him but Andrew Browne continued his upward trajectory with a solid victory where big serving was evident from both ends.

Next up at 12pm were two 8UP doubles. Father and son combination Luke & Dermot Bennett who are hoping to go one better than last year after being beaten by the eventual winners took on Ken Flanagan & David O’Sullivan. David and Ken fought valiantly but the Luke’s powerful shots and Dermot’s pouncing volleys were too much and they will be a team to be reckoned with in a very competitive event.

The first ladies to make an appearance in this year’s Championships were Helen Curran & Rebecca McNally O’Rourke up against Helen Hughes & Aideen Sheehan. The match was nip and tuck all the way with Helen and Rebecca saving a multitude of match points before finally succumbing. The prize for Aideen and Helen is a shot at No 1 seeds Sarah and Sandie.

The longest match of the day started at 2pm. Elaine Prior and Siobhan Smyth playing in continental conditions and managed to keep going for nearly two hours before the Elaine eventually brought a well-deserved water break and a place in the next round.

Match of the day was the highly anticipated 8up match between the league stalwarts Dave Hanley & Iain Walker and Tim McNichols & Brian O’Gorman. The match lived up to expectations with Brian showing his consistent quality and Tim certainly not giving any presidential reverence at the net. Unfortunately, it was the end of the road for President Hanley in this event.

Last on court was new Dad Jocelyn O’Callaghan & Mark Gill against the brothers Doheny, Michael and David. Jocelyn’s new responsibility has given him a calmness that shone through as he drew the best from Mark after his earlier singles defeat. Violet made her first appearance on the balcony during the match and it certainly won’t be the last. Michael and David showed some real tenacity but the O’Callaghan and Gill combination produced the goods again.

The weather may cause us some scheduling issues during the week so with such a large number of entries we would appreciate it you could arrive 10-15 minutes before your scheduled match and keep the knock up to a minimum. We get a little leeway from the neighbours during this week, but trying to avoid late matches would be really welcomed by all.

AGAIN, check the schedule online continuously as match times may change.