What a night of tennis we enjoyed with real quality, athleticism, drama and determination all on show in our great club as we are well and truly at the sharp end of this year’s Senior Championships.

As the 6.45pm matches were getting underway, a short EGM had been convened in a hybrid format to amend the constitution enabling the appointment of a Vice President. Nominated and elected as our first Vice-President, Colin Grant will no doubt prove to be an excellent successor to our current President Dave Hanley. Congrats Colin – richly deserved and the very best of luck in your role!

On the Jimmy Casey court it was the first of our Men’s semi-finals, Oisin and Max, no. 1 and 4 seeds respectively, who got the night off to a cracking start. Max brought his strong form, strength and shot play to bear to navigate his way past Oisin in 2 very competitive, tense and good natured sets. Well done Max on reaching your first Senior Singles final and we look forward to seeing Oisin back in 2023!

Out on court 2, Ladies’ no. 1 seed Chloe Giacometti was pitched against 3rd seed Aideen Sheehan in the first of the Ladies’ semi-final. Chloe who has been busy working in our successful Junior Programme this Summer has hit top form just at the right time and delivered on her seeding coming through in 2 sets in a match which was much tighter than the score would suggest.

Beside the Ladies’ singles match on court 3 there was an upset unfolding, with Will and Cara Fitzgerald, seeded at 4 getting off to a flying start against Rob Neiland and Rebecca McNally O’Rourke securing the first set 6-1. Aside from Will inadvertently hitting Cara a belter of a ball in the back, the sibling partnership were at one with one another and in sublime form. Rob and Rebecca were not going down without a real fight but Will and Cara held firm and claimed the second set to go through to their first Mixed Doubles’ senior final which takes place this evening.

On court 4, Ladies’ Co-Captain Jenny McCann and new member Niamh Byrne enjoyed a dingdong match with one esteemed member overheard querying if the match was part of the Ladies’ main Championship draw. Niamh played excellently to come through in 2 sets, leaving Jenny to focus on her 8UP Ladies’ Doubles semi-final this evening and of course some Captaincy duties!

The Men’s Doubles semi-final between Dave Cooney and Robbie Kearnan (no. 1 seeds) and Mark Fourie and Sam Hanley was postponed to this evening due to illness – this should be cracker with an upset possible…

Down on court 5 the Men’s plate semi-final took place throughout the evening. Colin Wardlaw had the good sense to suggest that himself and the youthful Ronan Prior commence proceedings at 6.45pm. Both players went toe-2-toe for nearly 3 hours with super shots, tactics, fitness and no shortage with good grace on show. Having shared a set each Colin and Ronan traded games at the back of the third set to bring this one to a tie-breaker. Ronan showed real composure to hold his nerve and play his shots to come through to reach the final this Saturday. Well done to both and in particular Ronan for making the step up from the Junior ranks so seamlessly!

With tasty nibbles provided by Jenny Cullen (super job thanks Jenny), the second wave of matches got underway in front of a jammed packed balcony hungry for more of Sandycove’s on-court finest. On the Jimmy Casey court was the second of Ladies’ singles semi-final, featuring no 1 and 4 seeds, Sarah Emerson and Linda Walsh. There was a wide array of shots on display on show as both players dug deep into their fitness lockers throughout this contest. Ultimately Sarah drew on her experience and consistency to navigate her way into the final overcoming Linda in 2 tight sets. Well done both on an excellent match.

On court 3, reining Mixed Doubles Champions Chloe and Steve Gill seeded at 1 took on Paul Curran and new joiner Stephanie Hegarty (3rd seeds) in the second semi-final. This was a really tight one with Paul and Stephanie playing smart tennis bringing the best out of our top seeds. Experience and excellent shot play won out in the end Chloe and Steve coming through in 2 sets to reach this evening’s final.

It was Lucky Dip semi-final night and on court 4 Ellen Cronin and John F were taking Fiona O’Reilly and Philip Craig. Ellen and John F took the first and were looking good in the second but Fiona and Philip who are 3 set specialists were not letting this opportunity slip. Clever shot play and an upping in performance helped Fiona and Philip claim the second and they held the momentum to win the third to secure a spot in tonight’s Lucky Dip final.

Down on court 6 the second of the Lucky Dip semi-finals was taking place between Clodagh Lowry and Iain Walker and Vanessa O’Reilly and Liam Hurley. This followed a similar trajectory to that of the court 4 semi-final with Vanessa and Liam stealing a march to win the first set only to see Clodagh and Iain (also 3-set specialists) raise their game to come through winning the second and third sets. Tonight’s final should be hugely exciting assuming both pairings have some energy left in the tank!

Arguably match of the night took place on court 2, with our no 2 and 3 seeds, Ivan Brady and Rob Neiland going head to head in the second of the Men’s Singles semi-final. This was a match of fine margins, power play, intensity, neat volleys and indeed a few stunt falls. Set one was like a game of cat and mouse with no more than a game between both competitors which saw Ivan edging it in a tie-break. Rob dug deep into his reservoir of classy shots and sheer determination to take a solid lead in the second but newly-wed Ivan showed his own character and athleticism to fight back and ultimately take the second in a tie break to secure spot in the final. This tight and tense battle captured the attention of the balcony with no one leaving until there was white smoke and fittingly it was the last match off court – thanks gents!

Play will commence at 6pm this evening with a plenty of excellent tennis in store including the Mixed Double’s Final and Lucky Dip Final. To complement the on court activity Steve McGoohan and team will be providing a complementary glass of Pimms so come down and enjoy all our club has to offer! To round off the evening there will be prize giving for this evening’s finals as well as the Internal Box Leagues. Sandycove Senior Championships 2022

Mandy, Jenny, Paul and Greg