Festival of Tennis 2022 – Ballarat’s link to the global game

The MCC Real Tennis section triumphed in the 2022 Festival of Tennis held at BTC on the 4th, 5th and 6th of November.

The Festival is established now as one of the premier events on the Australian real tennis calendar, attracting one of the largest fields assembled for a weekend tournament. This year saw teams enter from the UK Jesters, MCC, Wanderers, Aussie Jesters, Hobart and BTC. Overall it featured 40 players from the six teams, with a further healthy social camp of a dozen or so. Of special note was the welcome introduction of three new BTC women members to be part of the Festival competition.

Memorabilia Auction featuring debut of Wayward Racquets in Australia

A highlight of the Festival is an Annual Memorabilia Auction which raised nearly $6,000 for the club. Numerous BTC members and guests supported the Auction through donations of a wide range of items to be sold, and many more participated and purchased said items. The Auction was conducted on the court by Nathan Baker with much style and verve.

A special, one-off real tennis racket from new manufacturer Wayward Racquets of the USA, with a Festival of Tennis logo on it, was the top item for auction. The first Wayward racket in Australia will be well-travelled coming from the USA and going to the UK as the “prize” of visiting UK Jester, Gareth Quarry. We thank him for his winning bid north of $2,000.

UK Jesters team leader, Robert Dolman – for many years Wales’s #1 squash player – kindly donated a special auction item: a game of tennis on the hallowed lawns of Wimbledon. His other off-court contribution featured his singing of a Jester’s ditty about balls! Some say it was a close run thing that Cath Collins didn’t return fire with the Wanderers theme song. Is singing a new tradition for the Festival?

The On-Court Battle

On court, there were many tight and competitive games due largely to well-matched handicaps. BTC ran a close second to MCC, followed by UK Jesters squeezed out of second into third place by a slim margin, followed by the Wanderer, Hobart and Aussie Jesters finishing in that order.

BTC President Cath Faull announced the results and presented the winners with a fine magnum of shiraz to celebrate with.

Social Highlights – Live Teleconference with new Westwood Club in Washington DC

Off court it was great to meet new friends Jackson Pastoor from Hobart and the band of UK Jesters, welcome back John Moores en route to Hobart, and catch up with the many players who ventured up the road from Melbourne. It was great to see you all in Ballarat.

Saturday night featured a live internet hook-up with the new court opening that weekend in Washington DC (thanks Rod Unmack for various tech wizardry). The live cross to the Westwood Club was hosted at the other end by Steve Hufford, up early US time, to show us around the fabulous club rooms and spanking new court. Steve remembers BTC fondly as the venue of a memorable win in the Bostwick Cup held some years ago in Ballarat – and we remember him fondly too for that upset result (which surprisingly catapulted the World Team into runner-up position in the Bostwick that year).

We thank Steve for that effort and this effort at the Festival to link two major tennis celebrations across the globe. We advised him also that the DC v BTC challenges for the Boxing Kangaroo flag called “Kinky” are alive and will be active in 23. They have been warned!

Gourmet Delights

Food is never far from the centre of attention at BTC and the FoT. This year we kicked off Friday night’s repast with a swagman’s Supper of “jumbuk snags, dead horse and damper”. Some thought the damper would be a dampener, but it turned out great.

Saturday moved upscale with lunch from the Spring Carnival Racing Marquee with poached chicken, mayo and chives and smoked salmon, cracked black pepper and dill sandwiches which went down a treat.

The highlight was Stuart Strange’s wood fired, rosemary basted, whole lamb, with sous vide soy chicken, baked potatoes and salad, followed by Annie Strange’s Mars bar confection with ice cream and raspberries. Ballarat on a plate: what a treat all round.

Deconstructed fast-food rounded out the repasts for the Festival at Sunday lunch with Red Rooster-style fried chicken strips and beef burgers on offer. Chambo wowed us on the BBQ and those assembled devoured a (what is the collective noun for lots of hamburgers?) lot of burgers!

… till next time

Many thanks to the many who made the Festival of Tennis possible – you know who you are – and we look forward to doing it all over again, even better, even more fun, next year.

— from Festival of Tennis organiser, Rob Jolly

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