Light Hearted Fun at Radley
An enormous THANK YOU goes to all those who supported this club event, whether on or off-court. Radley added a fund-raising component to this year’s challenge for Real Tennis projects, particularly for junior and court development. Special thanks go to the generosity of our ‘100 Club’, comprising Mark Candlish, Giles Fitzpatrick, Chris Manson, Tim Robinson and Derek Williams, whose contributions of £100 each gave a terrific boost to our efforts, and to members Marty Burn, Julia Kent and Willy Wilks for their cash donations. More about this in the imminent club newsletter. If you would like to add any sort of donation before we send funds to Jesmond Dene for their urgent court repairs and to other real tennis projects, please let Chris know ASAP.
The club had decided not to run ITD at Radley on June 20 (the official day) but over a weekend, to allow as many members as possible to be involved. Marking an entire day across the time zones from Australia to the US, Radley’s marathon of continuous play began at 15.00 on Fri 23 June (start of a new day in Hobart). The Longest Day of tennis finished at 06.00 on Sunday 25 June (the end of the day in Chicago).
The event was kicked off, most appropriately, by two talented juniors who reflect the bright future of our game, the brothers Henry and Ned Batstone, the former an Old Radleian and Ned about to start the sixth form. On and on and on it went; new players, well-established players, pros and amateurs, young and not-so-young, men and women, boys and, well, actually, no girls, (but this must be rectified next year), members and non-members. With a fantastic collective effort, we reached our target.
Actually, play started well before 15.00 last Fri and continued far beyond 06.00 on Sunday and so, in total, we recorded a total of 53 hours of continuous play at Radley. This turned ITD into Super-ITD!! This marathon included the entire opening day’s play of the Irish Open Championships, which concluded well after ITD ended. This meant that not only was the court full but so was the dedans and club room. This made for a terrific atmosphere, vocal support for the players on court and a great deal of cake, many bananas and a great deal of other food and drink was consumed.
To give a taste of what happened, here are some details. Friday evening featured Mick Dean (well after his usual cocoa-time) playing Mike Henman, who stayed on court until midnight to take on CJR. Julia Kent and Bob Wilson took over until 1am on Sat morning. Successive shifts were then played by Jonny Dawes, Derek Williams, Maggie, Christopher Edgington, Mark Candlish, Adam Jeffrey, Andrew Leslau and Justin Snoxall. On Saturday evening, tournament participants and club members ate bangers and mash and filled the court 11pm, when Mac Bailey arrived in his pyjamas and dressing gown to play Brian Sutton, followed by Stewart Licudi, who appeared in his kilt to play in the early hours of Sunday against Paul Kettle, who, very sensibly, wore his night-cap. The cudgels were then taken up by Jake and Toby Kingsbury, James Walton, Chris Bullard, Christopher Prentice, Ian Williams and Tim Roberts.
Christopher Edgington (OR), who hadn’t been on a Real Tennis court three months ago, made a strong bid for the ‘Most Hours on Court Award’ by begging to play from 05.00-08.00 on Sat and Sunday, as well as playing in the singles and doubles of the Irish Open during more normal hours on both days. He had to settle for fewer hours of ITD play than he wished, given other bookings, which was just as well, as things turned out. In this, his first-ever tournament, he went all the way to the Final in the Irish Open and won, becoming Irish Open Singles Champion 2017. Congratulations to him!
CJR’s verdict on the whole affair; “Quite ridiculous. We must never do this again.”