Last October, Dublin University Lawn Tennis Club (DULTC) was invited to take part in the HEC Virtus Tennis Tournament in Stade Roland-Garros, the world-famous host of the French Open. Trinity College, along with seven other colleges from across Europe, got the chance to compete at the highest level on one of the most renowned courts in the world.
Trinity were joined by teams from the University of Cambridge, Milan’s Bocconi University, the Swiss University of St. Gallen, University of Oxford, l’École Polytechnique, Esade Barcelona, and tournament hosts HEC Paris.
Trinity came an impressive third, finishing behind the two English behemoths Cambridge and Oxford.
“Going over I didn’t have the highest of hopes,” said Colm Kelly, who was one of the eight College students that made up the tournament team. “Look[ing] at all those [other] colleges, they’re all the best in Europe, I thought they were all going to be unbeatable.”
“If we came sixth I would have been happy,” he expanded.
Trinity started out in Group B along with Oxford, HEC and Esade. The rules used were slightly modified from the norm to make the games more fast-paced and less formal. Each round involved a men’s singles, a women’s singles and a mixed doubles match.
“We were drawn against Oxford in the semis,” said Ellie O’ Kane, another one of the eight Trinity students who played in Paris. “But we lost in the deciding match.”
Kelly added that they were hoping to break Cambridge and Oxford’s hold on the final, as they have competed in the last few finals in a row. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.
After drawing one apiece after the singles matches, Oxford got the better of Trinity.
“We started off a bit poorly, we lost the first two quarters comfortably,” said Kelly. “But we won the third and fourth quarter and we were playing really, really well”.
“But there’s always a bit of luck involved in a tiebreaker,” he added.
Trinity went on to face Esade Barcelona in the third-place playoff, which Trinity won.
“We were friends with them by the end,” O’Kane said. “It was great fun.”
Along with bringing home the Bronze medal, DULTC has performed well in the domestic leagues. Both men’s and women’s teams were fielded at Class 1 and Class 2, with both Class 1 teams coming third in their respective groups, despite not fielding full-strength teams.
The experience of playing against Europe’s best colleges will give them a boost going into the Winter League this January.