World champions give Petworth tennis fans a real treat

The line-up for the real tennis evening at Petworth
The line-up for the real tennis evening at Petworth
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Petworth House’s tennis court was the scene of a scintillating evening of highly-skilled and competitive real tennis.

A knowledgeable crowd of members were enthralled as Petworth’s Bryn Sayers and Tom Durack took on the might of Holyport’s husband and wife world champions Rob and Claire Fahey in the National League.

The many Petworth members who attended this special night of world-class real tennis will remember it for a long time

Alan Chalmers

Rob Fahey has been undefeated men’s world champion for more than 20 years while Claire has been women’s world champion since 2011 and has the lowest handicap of any woman player in the history of the game.

Petworth’s players were Bryn Sayers, currently world No4 and British No1, and Tom Durack, senior pro at Petworth.

The first singles match was between Durack and Claire Fahey. On several occasions she hit the ball so hard that Durack’s racket was nearly knocked out of his hand.

Fahey took an early lead, but Durack, exploiting his home court advantage, forged ahead to take the first set 6-2. The second set remained highly competitive with Fahey finding the grille on several occasions. Durack led 5-2 with the match in his sight, but Fahey was not yet finished and came back to 5-4 before Durack ran out the match at 6-4.

In the number-one singles, Rob Fahey faced Sayers – two great players who know each other’s game ell.

Sayers is the senior tournament professional at London’s Queen’s Club and has won the USA and the British Open singles.

The first set saw Fahey build a lead of 5-2 before Sayers found his rhythm and came back to level at 5-5.

Real tennis simplifies the end of sets by making all sets end when one player has six games, without the need for the lawn-tennis system of being two games ahead. Fahey duly took the set 6-5.

The second set saw Fahey making errors but his volleying remained solid, as did his formidable retrieving abilities. Fahey hit the winning gallery and the grille on several occasions and took a 3-2 lead. Sayers was not yet beaten and took it to 5-5. But once again Fahey raised his game and took the match.

At one match all, the decider was the doubles in which the Faheys ran out 8-5 winners, giving Holyport the match. The many Petworth members who attended this special night of world-class real tennis will remember it for a long time.

ALAN CHALMERS