The annual encounters between Dublin’s Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club and the Veteran’s Club of Great Britain take place in a spirit of both relaxed conviviality and healthy competition. This year’s event held at Fitzwilliam was no exception. Players compete for the Ivar Boden Cup named after Ivar Boden, a long-standing member of Fitzwilliam, former President of the Queen’s Club, London and major driving force behind the fixture.
Fitzwilliam came out winners on this occasion by 9-3, but as is the norm in theses series of matches over many years, it is less the match result than the camaraderie and opportunity to cement social and sporting contacts which such events offer that is paramount. Talking to the visiting players, the resounding view was that Dublin was a very popular venue to travel to – something to do, no doubt, with the famous Irish hospitality and ‘craic’! The Burlington Hotel conveniently located across the road from the club (and a popular haunt during rugby international weekends), seems to be a popular choice for visiting guests within ‘staggering distance’ after the long social element of these events!
The Veteran’s Club of Great Britain has been in existence since 1958 and has been at the forefront of developing the veteran’s game in Britain. The annual encounter with Fitzwilliam has been in existence since 1990 and has managed to attract the highest levels of talent from each Club. On the 2012 Fitzwilliam side, for example, were four former Irish Davis Cup players, all now in their 50’s. The GB Vets also maintain strong ties with the Veterans of Norway and in recognition of that fact, this year’s GB team included two guest players from Norway, Harald Messel and Espen Wold. Other GB Vets hailed from clubs in Wales, Bedfordshire, the David Lloyd Club, the All-England and St. George’s Hill, Weybridge.
Matches (all of which are doubles and reverse doubles) are played over two days. Each team includes four doubles pairs (two at Over-45 level and two Over-55’s). Reverse doubles were played on the Sunday.
Match results (with Fitzwilliam hosts listed first) were as follows:
Jerry Sheehan and Brian Smith lost to Mike Dawe and Harald Messel 7-5, 0-6 10-6
Noel Sheridan and Robin Gibney beat Mike Dawe and Harald Messel 7-5, 7-6
Noel Sheridan and Robin Gibney beat Jim Whitaker and Adrian Roberts 6-1, 6-1
Jerry Sheehan and Garret Kelliher beat Jim Whitaker and Adrian Roberts 6-2, 7-6
Conor McCullough and Richard Collins beat Duncan Riefler and Espen Wold 6-2, 6-1
Brian Lawlor and Colin Dolan beat Duncan Riefler and Espen Wold 6-7, 6-2, 10-7
Brian Lawlor and Colin Dolan lost to Chris Hill and Dave Rawlinson 0-6 3-6
Conor McCullough and Richard Collins beat Chris Hill and Dave Rawlinson 6-3, 6-3
Conor McCullough and Jerry Sheehan beat Harald Messel and Dave Rawlinson 6-7, 6-1, 10-6
Noel Sheridan and Colin Dolan lost to Chris Hill and Adrian Roberts 6-3, 6-7, 6-10
Robin Gibney and Brian Lawlor beat Espen Wold and Duncan Riefler 6-3, 6-2
Richard Collins and Frank Kinsella beat Jim Whitaker and Mike Dawe
After the first day’s play, Fitzwilliam led by 5-3 with four matches remaining on the Sunday. On this occasion, Fitzwilliam ran out overall winners, the final scoreline of 9-3, however, not being a full reflection of the competitiveness of many of the matches.
Hospitality, as always, was abundant – the writer joined the group on the Saturday afternoon in the Fitzwilliam club dining room as they heartily enjoyed the social side of the fixture. The veterans’ game is very much thriving in an age when health and fitness is an imperative for all generations. Such fixtures prove highly popular among all participants and prove that what may be lost in terms of speed and energy is balanced by wisdom and experience. Long may these fixtures continue.
November 30, 2012