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British Open 2019 - PRESS DAY

Nov 13, 2019

Press Release 11 xi 2019

The T&RA British Open 2019 Real Tennis
The Queen’s Club
Palliser Road
W14 9EQ

The Tournament

The British Open is the most important Open Tournament of the Real Tennis World Tour in terms of size and money. It attracts the best players including the top amateurs and ladies.

The Championships consists of the British Open Singles and British Open Doubles tournaments.

The total Purse for Singles is £25,000 and Doubles is £10,500.

The T&RA is currently looking for a title and secondary sponsors to improve the prize money and to attract larger audiences to raise the profile of the sport.

This is the first ever Press Event held for the British Open.

The Players

The tournament features the top players in the world including Professional, Amateur and both Men and Women from the UK, France, USA and Australia.

Amateurs and Women can qualify for the British Open because a player’s standard in Real Tennis, like Golf, is based on handicap. The majority of players are +2 or better handicap. The highest handicap in the Singles draw this year will be the Qualifier at -14 and the lowest handicap is World Number 1 Camden Riviere at +16.5.

Both World Number 1 and 2 are competing this year. Camden Riviere (World No. 1) is back in action at Queen's for the first time since losing his World Championship in 2018. World Champion Robert Fahey (World No. 2), is back in action after winning last year's Open Singles and Doubles titles. Australian Chris Chapman (World No. 3) returns to the UK after moving back to Melbourne earlier this year hoping to secure his number three position for the World Championship race which starts

Two women are competing this year: Claire Fahey (GB), ladies World Champion (2011-present), who has qualified straight into the main draw for the first time (she first played in the British Open in 2016 when the rules changed to allow women to compete in the Open) and ladies' World Number 2 Lea van Der Zwalmen (FR) who will play the Junior World Champion Freddie Bristowe (GB) in a qualifying match at Radley College on Thursday 14th November at 11am. Based on handicap, Bristowe (14) and van Der Zwalmen (15), the outcome will be very close to decide who will go through to the main draw.

International, British and World Championship Real Tennis

Real Tennis is played in the four Grand Slam countries with Holland and Ireland hosting clubs but do not have an active court.

There are hundreds of dormant and former buildings that were once real tennis courts all over Europe – a testament to the sport’s significance in the history of sport. The revival of courts will grow as the sport becomes more widely known. All modern racquet sports come from real tennis but while the modern sports used industrial ingenuity and new locations to promote popular growth, real tennis remained tied to its traditions and clubs. The hope now is to adapt and build less expensive courts while appealing to new audiences interested in playing a technically challenging game steeped in history like golf and cricket.

The Tennis & Rackets Association

The T&RA is the Governing Body for British Real Tennis. Founded in 1907 it oversees all aspects of the sport including the rules, training of club professionals, partners the Dedanists’ Society to run junior and elite training and the Dedanists Foundation to help clubs recruit juniors from as many schools as possible in the UK.

The T&RA and UK clubs supported the Earl of Wessex’s world tour in 2018 to raise the profile of real tennis and work directly with schools involved in the Duke of Edinburgh Award programme.

The UK has 26 clubs and over 5,000 players which is the largest population of Real Tennis courts and players in the world. Most clubs have one court but there are three clubs with two courts: The Queen’s Club, Cambridge University Real Tennis Club and Prested Hall Sports Club. Prested Hall will be the venue for the World Championship 2020 (men); The Queen’s Club was host of the men’s World Championships in 2012 and 2018.

The sport was first popular in the British Isles during the Renaissance when it was the “Tennis†played throughout Europe. The sport, in theory, can be played in any enclosed area and rules adapted to the space, however, the customized courts used for major competitions and the World Championship today are very expensive to build (in excess of 600,000). There is a court building project called “Tennis Court Pavilionâ€, funded by the T&RA and designed in partnership with Robin Snell Partners, which is currently looking to build its first court at a significantly reduced cost to bricks and mortar. A glass court stadium is possible and is the dream project of World Champion Robert Fahey.

The Court

Every court is unique in play and character. Every court consists of the same elements but can vary in size, degrees, surfaces, materials, colour and decoration. This variation in playability leads to the ambition of any keen player to play every court in the world. Many of the courts in use today are pre-industrial (Hampton Court, Fontainebleau and Oxford) while the majority of active courts in the UK and USA were built during the late Victorian and Edwardian ages, many by the famous plasterer Joseph Bickley. There have been over twenty new courts built or revived since 1980 creating a modern Renaissance in the game.

The Racquet

The racquets must be made predominantly of wood. Composite racquets would be useful as they last longer but like in cricket or baseball, the use of wood is integral to the nature of the game. Power is futile if not controlled and is naturally harnessed in order to hit the targets consistently. The main UK manufacturer of racquets is Grays of Cambridge.

The Ball

The balls are all hand made by the professionals. Balls are made to suit the court’s play and there will be variations in the “core†which normally consists of cork. The core is then wrapped with upholstery tape and then bound with thin string. Finally, two parts of thick felt are sewn together tightly – like a baseball and similar in look to a modern tennis ball. All in all, the ball must not weigh more than 79 grams and have a diameter larger than 2 9/16 inches. A “donkey†workbench used in the 18th century is still used in real tennis workshops across the world to make and shape the balls. It takes an experienced pro 35 minutes to make a ball from scratch and the materials and labour cost over £20 each. A set of tennis balls consists of 60-72 balls and lasts around two weeks for club play. A Tournament requires a brand new set of balls for each competition which is used throughout the event. Once a ball is “usedâ€, it is uncovered, the core compacted and rebound and then is ready to re-cover and use again. A club will have hundreds of balls in circulation so that one core lasts about 4 years.

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