Ladies Tennis Firsts shine as DULTC hosts Intervarsities

Upending UCD’s nine-year winning streak, DULTC Ladies claim gold at Intervarsities

Despite balancing organising duties with their playing commitments, Dublin University Lawn Tennis Club (DULTC) recently saw significant success at the annual Irish Intervarsities competition. With Trinity selected to host this year, months of organisation by the Club committee saw games held across Dublin from 1st – 3rd February, from their home courts of Botany Bay to Templeogue Tennis Club, where the majority of games were played. Nine universities from around the island travelled to compete in the prestigious three-day tournament, including University College Dublin (UCD), University College Cork (UCC), and University of Galway.

Intervarsities is structured differently and quite unusually to the traditional format of tennis competition. In order for College A to win against College B, the teams from each university will play a best-of-nine-matches tie. Each team consists of six players, all of whom play a singles match per knock-out round. The last three matches are doubles matches, with the consequence of this structure being that if either college manages to win two of their singles matches, the players must return to the court to seek a win in the doubles matches.

With a total student membership of approximately five hundred, DULTC entered eight six-person teams to the competition; three in the Ladies Championship, two in the Men’s Championship, and three in the mixed, social Bowl competition. Initial performances were a true testament to the depth of quality available in the DULTC encampment, with DULTC Ladies Thirds causing an upset by reaching the quarter-finals, and the Seconds only exiting in the semifinals after a narrow defeat to UCD’s Firsts. Both the Men’s and Women’s Firsts of DULTC emerged as frontrunners early on in the competition, however it would not be until semifinals day when the competition truly heated up and the teams dared to dream of ultimate success.

Safely through the earlier rounds, DULTC Men’s and Ladies Firsts faced more significant tests in their respective semi-finals. Tension was high as the coveted spots in the finals were finally within touching distance, however both teams rose admirably to the occasion. The Ladies Firsts defeated UCC Firsts, while their male counterparts found themselves locked in a perhaps unexpectedly demanding showdown against UCD Seconds, but one which they faced up to with determination and ultimately emerged victorious from.

Classically unpredictable Irish weather graced the athletes for Finals Day in Templeogue, and DULTC’s Men’s Firsts played their final against UCD Firsts to open the day’s proceedings. Trinity’s players battled hard but ultimately fell short of UCD’s standard, with the match being decided in the singles rounds. The Ladies Firsts, composed of Ali O’Dea, Cliona Walsh, Eve Callaghan, Ellie O’Kane (Ladies Captain), Kate Burke, and Grace Sargent, took to the courts next for a replica Trinity – UCD women’s final.

The challenge facing DULTC in the final was far from insignificant, with the UCD team they now faced consisted of a combination of past and present members of the Irish national tennis team. Spurred on, however, by the memories of a devastating loss at Colours only three months previously, as well as comfort in their “underdogs” status (UCD were also attempting to take their tenth ladies intervarsity win in a row), Trinity’s answer was to go into the finals with an unabashedly aggressive attitude and see what came of it. Captain O’Kane, playing fourth singles for DULTC, described the dynamic as making it “difficult to go into the final with confidence”, however the sizable Trinity contingent maintained an optimistic attitude ahead of the opening of proceedings.

From the offset, the finals matches were hotly contested affairs, with all six of the singles matches going down to the wire. With five matches played and DULTC 3-2 up, Eve Callaghan’s three-set match to wrap up the singles was the longest of the tournament but saw Trinity enter the doubles matches with a 4-2 lead. With pairings for the doubles made strategically, DULTC’s victory wasn’t secured until the final game, which saw Trinity take the tournament win with a final scoreline of 5-4 and dethrone UCD for the first time in ten years.

The tournament closed with a black tie reception held in the GMB, where greatly appreciated music from members of the Trinity Orchestra contributed notably to the ambience. DULTC Men’s Captain, Colm Kelly, presented the winning teams with their trophies, commenting that he was filled with a “sense of pride” to be handing the Ladies Intervarsity Cup to his clubmates. Tennis is notable amongst College clubs for the close-knit nature of their mens’ and womens’ squads, and Kelly’s speech exemplified this, with the ladies’ win acting as a win for all of DULTC.

The DULTC season continues with Winter League every Sunday for the forthcoming weeks, with matches beginning on campus at 11am until 5pm. All teams currently are situated ‘comfortably’ at the top of their respective groups with highly anticipated playoffs at stake. Spectators and supporters are warmly encouraged to attend. 

Those wishing to get involved with DULTC, whether as complete beginners or experienced players, can check out on Instagram or email [email protected] for further information. In Botany Bay, Advanced training is held on Mondays, 6pm – 8pm; Intermediate training on Wednesdays, 6pm – 9pm; and Beginners training on Fridays, 6pm – 9pm.

Jane Prendergast

Jane Prendergast is Co-Sports Editor of Trinity News. She is a Junior Sophister student of Law.