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IC Belgium vs IC Ireland, Tommy Burke Trophy, Brussels

Bryan Smyth, President 

Jimmy McDonagh, Captain IC Club of Ireland

By Email

11 September 2016

RE: Captain’s Report on IC Ireland v IC Belgium Fixture 2-4 September, Brussels

Dear Bryan, Jimmy,

We enjoyed a memorable few day in Limelette, Brussels last weekend, where our team of 8 were shown incredible hospitality from our Belgian friends. We flew into Brussels airport on Friday afternoon hoping to get some practice on the red clay courts at the Justin Henin club that evening but delays in securing our 9 man rent-a-car van followed by heavy traffic on the motorway to Limelette meant it was straight to Chateau du Lac for pre-dinner drinks where we met most of the IC Belgian team. Michel de Marneffe and Annemarie Van Coillie were largely responsible for arranging the hospitality over the weekend. Dinner at Chateau du lac was specifically hosted by Alexia Martin, as daughter of the owner of the hotel and also a fine No. 1 player for their ladies team.

The team was structured as 2 men’s and 2 ladies from 30 – 45 years of age and 2 men and 2 ladies, aged 60+. In the end after trying 20+ ladies from the IC Ireland database, the best we could do was to present 2 ladies, Suzanne and Barbara in the 30 45 years category with the remaining 6 being men, 2 from the 30-45 category, 3 aged 50+, and 1 aged 60+ in John O’Rourke.

The tennis commenced at 9.30am on Saturday morning. When I had spoken to Michel de Marneffe a few weeks previously and asked what format the tennis should take he said it was totally up to us. On the Saturday morning, he was very definitive that we would play singles in the morning and doubles in the afternoon.

We played over 4 beautiful red clay courts, starting with 3 men’s and 1 ladies singles with the latter 4 singles commencing late morning once the first matches were over. 

By mid-morning we were down 3-1 as follows:

KerryMark MacCarthy lost to Philippe Heirebaudt 6/3 3/6 10/7 John Sheridan lost to Vincent Limauge: 6/3 6/1
Jimmy McDonagh beat Patrick Lemaire 3-6 6-2 10-7
Suzanne Tyrell lost to Alexia Martin
: 6/0 6/1

Jerry Sheehan lost to Michel de Marneffe: 6/2 6/2 Brian Lawlor beat Rudy Michielsen: 6/2 6/4
John O’Rourke beat Jean Delacollette: 6/0 6/3 Barbara Reamsbottom lost to Diane Guns: 6/1 6/1

By lunchtime, we tied the late morning matches thanks to the experience of JOR and Brian L. leaving the match at 5-3, giving us a chance to retain the Siler Salver trophy if we could win 3 of the 4 doubles. 

KerryMark & John S. lost to Vincent and Eric Daubresse : 0/6 7/5 10/4

Suzanne & Barbara lost to Dianne and Annemarie Van Coillie: 6/1 7/5

KerryMark and I should have won the first doubles having secured the first set 6-0 but unfortunately lost on a champions tie break, with the result that we came away winning only 1 of the 4 doubles.

Overall result:

IC Belgium: 8 IC Ireland: 4

I understand the previous result was overwhelmingly in our favour, so probably no harm that the Belgians bring the cup back to be engraved. That said, if KerryMark had won his two championship tie-breaks, it would have been 6-6 and we would have retained the silver!

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner on the Saturday evening back at our Hotel, Château de Limelette, where we handed the Saver trophy to Philippe Vercruysse, acting captain, who questioned whether his good friend Conor McCullough would ever be fit to play again given his growing injury list. We presented each member of the Belgian team with a mini bottle of Irish whiskey with a large bottle of Jameson handed to Michel de Marneffe in thanks for his exceptional hospitality. 

On more than one occasion, various member of the Belgian team made reference to the unique bond between the Irish and Belgian teams in both enjoying a good competitive game of tennis but also sharing good food and wine in very relaxed company.

Jerry and Jimmy lost to Philippe Vercruysse and Michel de Marneffe: 6/1 7/5 Brian and John O’R. beat Rudy Michielsen and Alex Lamquet: 6/3 7/5

We will need to budget to return the very generous hospitality extended to us for the home fixture in 2017.

Best regards

John Sheridan