Report by Robert Bawden.
This tournament is held in South West France traditionally every other year. The Covid pandemic delayed the tournament that should have taken place in 2020 until this year.
I was delighted to take a team of predominantly Newmarket players reinforced by Simon Harris from Prested.
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
Very few of the many thousands of Real Tennis courts have survived in France as a whole. SW France is an exception because many were preserved and adapted for playing Basque games such as Pelota. The court is called a Trinquet. The games normally played on these courts do not require a net.
The organisers of this fascinating and quirky Real Tennis tournament have traditionally arranged to adapt the Trinquets by adding a net to 3 courts in the area. This year they added a 4th court hence TTT +1.
The courts are all much smaller than Newmarket, they are all different and none of them have a penthouse at the receivers end. Below is a picture of Ken Smith receiving a ball on one of the courts. In the corner is an angled wall like a tambour and modified grill. You will also see a metal bar on the back wall, great to hit if you’re serving, annoying if it hits that when you’re receiving.
There were 21 teams entered including teams from Australia and Holland. Team sizes were from 4 to 8. Lower average handicap teams were entered in to the Tripots trophy while the higher average teams took part in the Coupe D’Arcangues. Our team of eight entered as ‘Eight Shades of Grey’ in to the Coupe D’Arcangues.
Each team played matches in their group against 6 other teams in the Round Robin stage. Each match consisted of 4 sets to 6, no player could play more than twice and never with the same partner.
We enjoyed some good play winning 2 of our matches, drawing 2 and losing 2. That put us in to the Plate knock out competition. We made it through to the final on the last day but went down fighting to the last.
We all stayed at different locations in the beautiful small city of Bayonne. We had a great time playing on some amazing and quirky courts. 3 of the courts had excellent bars next to the courts and the fourth had a bar nearby. We had some wonderful evenings mostly sitting outside in agreeable temperatures with plenty of wine, great food and great company. The week was rounded off with a fine dinner with plenty of wine at the Chateau D’Arcangues.
We all appreciated the extraordinary amount of work involved in both the planning and execution of the tournament.