The finals of the Dublin Lawn Tennis Council floodlight leagues turned into an unfortunate night of disappointment for the Trinity men’s 1st and 3rd teams as they both came out on the wrong side of 2-1 results.
The floodlight league campaign has already been a huge success for the tennis club, with all teams, for which it was possible, gaining promotion on both the men’s and women’s sides for the following year. This was capped by a huge achievement for the men’s 1st team who reached the final of Class 1 for the first time in the club’s history.
The final was played in Glasnevin Tennis Club and they faced very tough opposition in the form of Castleknock. Mark Carpenter, Gavin Gilhawly, Chris Ma and Cal Craven were chosen to represent the club on the night, where Mark and Cal played singles while Chris and Gavin teamed up in the doubles.
All three of the matches started off in a very cagey manner, with none of the players wanting to give up an early break. It was Carpenter who started the strongest, taking the initiative against his opponent Fiachra Lennon, who found it difficult to handle Carpenter’s serve and volley tactics. He took control of the first set and went on to win it 6-2.
This spurred on the Trinity team who looked to take the advantage in their matches and for a time it looked as if all of the opening sets might go the way of Trinity.
Castleknock fought back strongly, however, to take opening sets in both of the other matches, both 6-4. It was particularly close in Cal’s match against Fergus O’Connell, who had several break points when he was 5-4 down but was unable to find the breakthrough and was unlucky to lose the first set.
The confidence of the opening set victories began to show in the play of the Castleknock team and this was especially evident in the doubles as the Castleknock pair of LePorte and Ryan began to play with real purpose. Despite some great play from Gilhawly and Ma there was little they could do to prevent Castleknock taking a commanding lead in the second set. Craven went down an early break in the second set but after this blip, the match continued in the same vain as the first set and was extremely close.
Carpenter also found himself in a tougher battle in the second set, which went on serve all the way to a tie-break. The tie-break threw up some extremely entertaining points, with both players showing deft touches around the net but it was Carpenter who held his nerve and went on to win it 7-5, winning the match 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) and gaining the first point for Trinity.
However Castleknock kept control of the doubles, going on to win 6-4, 6-2 which left the tie resting on the final singles match. In almost a mirror image of the first set, Cal found himself 5-4 down with a number of opportunities to break back, but again was unable to find a way through and lost 6-4, 6-4. Despite the final not going their way the lads can be extremely proud of what they achieved in this campaign.
The men’s 3rds final took place on the same night, as they took on Deerpark Tennis Club in the culmination of the Class 4 tournament. The match took place in Sandycove Tennis Club and began at a blistering pace.
The team got off to a brilliant start when Kevin O’Reilly and Daire Gargan won their doubles match 6-2, 7-5. The tie was soon levelled at 1-1, however, as Conor Sexton went down 6-2, 6-1 in his singles match.
That also brought this tie down to the final match which featured the team captain, Ross Pender. He battled his way to a first set lead but was hugely unlucky to lose the following two sets, going down 7-5 in the third set, in an extremely tense and dramatic match. This team will play in Class 3 next year, though, which is a great achievement and a challenge that all of the players will relish.
A special mention also has to be given to the ladies 1st team who lost 2-1 in the semi-final of Ladies Class 1. The team captain, Julie O’Beirne, suffered an unfortunate injury in the warm-up which led to her having to retire, making it almost impossible for the team to qualify.
To reach this stage of the competition is a huge achievement for the girls who will hope to erase this memory by taking the crown at Intervarsities taking place in Cork in February. The men will also travel to Cork with aspirations of victory and are in great shape to end a long run of victories by DCU.
Both men’s teams would like to thank all the supporters who came out to cheer them on on the night.