Last night Prince’s Court held it’s first ever US National League match between Philadelphia and New England (Boston and Newport combined). Tickets were snapped up for the Dedans in a silent auction leaving the majority of the fans enjoying the action through the glass main wall. The rest took up stools in the Last Gallery. Head count looked to be about 85.
The evening began with Robbie Whitehouse (Head Pro of Philadelphia) taking on Rich Smith (Head Pro of Newport). Robbie got off to a flying start, serving tightly against the service and back walls, leaving Rich little room for his forcing game. At 4 – 1 Rich began to flex his muscles but Robbie carried on pinning him down with great length and fantastic retrievals resulting in 6 – 2 to Robbie. Rich started the second set serving and found his demi-piquet worked wonderfully. He dominated the second set with this serve as Robbie seemed to tire a little. By cleverly mixing his attack with forces and good length Rich took it 6 – 2. Final set saw Rich race to a 3 – 0 lead. However, he let Robbie back in and it was soon 3 all. They both hunkered down playing solid ground strokes and putting everything away when given the opportunity.
At 4 all, 30 all, Rich went to receive, attacking hazard better than 2. Robbie’s serve was a sitter and Rich overly excited, spanked it into the net. He then had to beat better than 1. He walloped his force off the mainwall, colliding with the Dedans penthouse, rolling round to the side penthouse and dropping onto the floor at 1 and 2 …… with spin taking it ever closer to better than one. Robbie back peddled frantically. The ball dropped and the marker called 1 yard, lost the chase! Rich controlled himself well and was 30 – 15 up in the next game. Robbie however was not going to allow him back and after 3 more great rests, took the final set 6 – 4.
The big match was next. Steve Virgona against Camden Riviere. No introductions needed here. They are supremely gifted athletes and ridiculously talented racquet wielders. Both lefties, with inch perfect serves, deadly accurate laser beamed target sighting and heat seeking forces, Fred Astaire footwork and the concentration capacity to play 6 games of Chess simultaneously! If you had to separate them ….. one is ginger and the other isn’t!! No, seriously, Steve is a bit stronger and Cam a bit faster but that’s splitting hairs.
Unfortunately for us all, (and painfully for him), Cam turned up with a broken wing. He really should not have played. His left shoulder is badly damaged and needs months of rest and physio at best, surgery at worst.
Steve, very gallantly kept the game on the floor because Cam simply couldn’t raise his arm or extend it too far. They displayed some beautiful “olde school” tennis that Pierre would have been proud of. One rest easily passed the 40 shots count. Cam tried two-handed shots and switched to his right-hand for some hard to reach lunges. It was a very entertaining match but over pretty quickly. With Steve taking it easy, Cam could put up a good fight. However if the shot stretched Steve, his instinct and training kicked in and a winner invariably followed. 6 – 2, 6 – 1 was the final result leaving New England high and dry for the National League
The doubles that finished the night off was fantastic. The way the players interact with each other and move around in a sychronised, pre-planned flow is inspirational to us all. As the match progressed Cam became more competitive and eventually murdered a cross court volley into the winning gallery, right in front of Steve. Steve, smiled, rolled his sleeves up and promptly put the next 2 returns into the Dedans with such force, our (bullet proof!) glass wall now has scars!! His point was made. Shortly afterwards, in a valiant attempt to defend the Grille, Rich “took one in the chops” off the Tambour. This delighted the Dedans as it was proof that these guys are human too!!
Philly took the match 8 -7 and a wonderful evening of top class, professional competitive tennis was over.
Thank you to Cecila, (as ever) for both getting the paint for the court and organising all the delicious food and copious beverages. Michael Thiry for his painting of the court and help setting up. Christine for making sure every one was fed and watered, Vu, Jake and Danny for their help too.
Temple, Freddie Prince, Rob Carlson, Steve Hufford, Michael Moore, Ryan Carey and Zaheer Poptani for their generous contributions to the best seats in the house. Without your support the Pros would have gone home a la pied!
Finally, Mr Ryan Carey, creator of all things imaginative and crusader of Online Court Tennis USA! All matches were broadcast on Ustream.com and there’s even some “Northern Monkey” throwing in his 10 cents of commentary (or dribble depending on your perspective) for the doubles match. They are there for your pleasure and to gain some instruction. So take a look and remember the evening fondly, otherwise have a look and see what you missed!
The King (Rob Fahey) is not dead and long may he reign, but it looks like Prince Steven is in the driving seat to challenge him.
See you all on court