Cork Tennis Blog

Welcome to the Cork Tennis Blog.

This blog will keep you up to date on the tennis scene in Cork, both socially and competitively. Whether you are new to the game or an experienced player I hope you find the information and posts here, useful and interesting.

You can contact me by email at

As well as local tennis news, there are also some very good articles written by local players and I am always looking for people to contribute to the blog, so don't be shy.

Please also feel free to comment on individual posts, or alternatively through the comment box on the right of the blog. I hope you enjoy reading through the blog and that it was of some use to you.

Enjoy your game, Rob

Rob's Racketrestringing

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Visually Impaired Tournaments Underway.

Visually Impaired Tournaments Underway - Report courtesy of Tennis Coach Joanne Williamson

With the start of tournament tennis across the country underway , Visually Impaired tennis was no different and took to the indoor court facility in Shankill, Dublin last Sunday morning. With funding from the HSE and Tennis Ireland (TI) players from across the country gathered together for a day in "Celebration of Visually Impaired tennis."

Not even the blustery wind and sub zero temperature could put a stop to the determined , driven players who had the choice of competing in the competitive or the social event run expertly by Annemarie Breen and Wesley O'Brien .

Kicking off at 10 am. and running through til early evening, the courts were kept busy with a constant flow of eager players.

Making the journey in a generously sponsored mini bus by Cork company Stryker were five members of the Ballinlough based Visually Impaired (VI) group. Along with a coach on hand and assistants Reรญdรญn Kelleher and Mark O'Neill, the group participated in an on court mix of drills and point play. Playing for the first time outside of the coaching sessions was a huge step for all but meeting other players of different abilities was an experience enough to whet the appetite of the Cork crew and leave them wanting more! 

For those not in the know,  VI tennis is an international event whose popularity is growing nationwide. Having started in 2015, programs now take place in nearly ten locations nationwide, including two in Munster. All programs are run as indoor sessions except Cork, which is based out of Ballinlough LTC and relies on the weather Gods to play ball! 

Rules allowing numerous bounces of the ball depending on the visual ability of the player and bells inside the balls are truly ingenious and should be witnessed to be fully appreciated. Other than slight modifications to the scoring system, all else is as close to "real" tennis as possible. Raised lines at shorter distances from the net make the game more achievable for the players but most certainly do not take away from the level of competitiveness. 

Sundays celebration of the development of the game is an excellent example of the growth and progression of the TI Enjoy Tennis program. Tennis Ireland President John Ryan was on hand showing his support and said, " it was my first time seeing how the game works live. What struck me most was the passion the players had for tennis. Their commitment and talent /skill set is inspiring"

Easter came early to all the players with eggs sponsored kindly by the Supervalu Head office Cork and Lir Chocolates.  

B1-4 event winners Stuart Haxell, Andrea Hope, Babs Weiberg and Doris Finley played tirelessly for the day and with the Munster contingent getting to grips with the competitive side of the game , I feel their titles could be up for grabs next year!

Friday, October 22, 2021

Tennis strings and Winter Tennis

 As the winter season gets underway here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Temperature is dropping 
  • Takes longer to warm up
  • Cold and wet tennis balls
  • More layers on you so can be harder to swing
  • More prone to injury as muscles aren't as flexible
One thing that can help with all of these factors is a fresh set of strings.  All the factors above combine with the result being a decrease in power.

You cannot expect the same result from your racket and strings in the summer as in Winter, so to help your performance level stay the same drop your string tension a few pounds.  This drop in tension increases the sweet spot, gives the string-bed a greater trampoline effect resulting in more power and spin potential.

One important factor to note, strings that have lost tension over time are not the same as freshly installed strings at a lower tension.  Strings that have lost tension have done so because they have lost their elasticity.  When this happens you lose control, your spin potential drops and your risk of injury increases.

Second event on the IWTO Tour confirmed.

 Thrilled to announce that the next IWTO Tournament will be the Irish Close Championships to be held in Ireland’s oldest club: Rushbrooke Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Date to be confirmed soon ...

This will form part of a Wood Tennis program within the club to include Junior and Social events throughout 2021-22 ๐ŸŽพ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿชต.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Introducing IWTO


IWTO, what does it mean and what's it all about?  Well IWTO, as the logo above says, is International Wood Tennis Organisation.  It is an organisation founded by Irish tennis player, Steve O' Sullivan and the goal behind it is to get people playing tennis with wooden rackets again.

If you have grown up as part of the modern game you are probably wondering why you would want to play with wooden rackets.  Well let me start by saying, IWTO is not trying to replace or take on modern day tennis, it is offering it as an alternative, maybe a bit of nostalgia.  If you haven't played tennis with a wooden racket you should try it, it is an amazing experience. The craftsmanship that went into making these rackets is second to none.  Modern day tennis is played with, on average, a 100 sq. inch racket head size, wooden rackets are generally around 68 sq. inches.  The sweet spot is tiny, so hitting it in itself is a skill.  The touch and feel from wooden rackets will give you an appreciation of the talent of the players of days gone by.

The hope of the IWTO is that players and clubs from around the world will get involved and arrange tournaments like the one that just took place in Cork, Ireland this past weekend.  Douglas Lawn Tennis Club held the inaugural tournament for the IWTO, The Irish Open.  It was a great success and one which attracted players of the wooden era and some younger players who were keen to test their skills with these masterpieces.

Steve was absolutely delighted with the event and the standard of play on display.  The young men's and women's singles events were won by 2 well known players on the Munster circuit.  Congratulations to Mary Claire McCarthy of Sundays Well Tennis Club and Antoine Bercy of Douglas Lawn Tennis Club.

If you are interested in getting your club involved in the IWTO tour you can contact us, currently, through Facebook ( and we will be happy to give you any details you may need.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Stringing service and advice available

One of the biggest issues I come across as a stringer is players using a string and not knowing why, or worse still using a string that is completely wrong for them on the advice of someone else.

Stringers have different goals when they start out, some string to save themselves money because they are breaking regularly or their kids are, others to make some extra money, more will want to string at Pro events and some of us want give the best service possible.  This means talking to your clients, and their coach if necessary, to find out more about their game style.  We want to give people the information needed for them to make their own informed choices by helping them understand the different types of strings and how they play.  Telling them about the different racket types and how they play and ultimately how the racket and string can work together for the best result or how a wrong choice can lead to poor performance or worse again, injury.

There should never be a situation where a stringer strings every racket with the same string and same tension, regardless of age, standard or racket yet I see this regularly.

I will gladly chat with anyone, with no obligation to get a restring from me, to help you better understand rackets and strings.

I am back in Cobh or the summer and can be contacted on 087-1528120.  You can also find information on my website 

Hope to hear from you.

Official Stringer - Irish Junior Close Championships

Delighted to be the official stringer for the upcoming Irish Junior Close Championships at Rushbrooke Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club from the 18-24th of July.

This is a nationally ranked event so should attract some of the countries best players.

I will also be available if any of the club members or visitors to the club require a restring over the course of the week.  I will have a selection of strings with me and will gladly help you with your selection.


Friday, July 2, 2021

Lower Aghada welcomes Wheelchair tennis this weekend.


Singles, doubles and quads! These are the events that await wheelchair tennis players of the future! With the new division of Quads (quadriplegic) being played this year in Wimbledon, wheelchair tennis is looking more popular than ever.


Tennis Ireland's Enjoy tennis program will join forces with the Irish Wheelchair Association on July 3rd in the windy, picturesque setting of Lower Aghada tennis club. The East Cork base will welcome wheelchair users of all ages to come and give tennis a go! 


Munster representative for Enjoy Tennis, Aine Dunne was keen to see the program back up and running. Her son Ciarรกn had attended sessions in 2013 with the club's then Head Coach, Mike Lehane.

Ciaran was an avid tennis fan and having coached him myself in the past, I can tell you that tennis was a sport he was hugely enthusiastic about. 


The reintroduction of this amazingly difficult game has only positives for the people of Cork. With wheelchair tennis now being included in not only the Paralympics but also the four Grand slams, perhaps there's an Irish player out there just waiting to be discovered! For more information of the trial day please contact

Monday, May 31, 2021

Getting to know the coaches of Cork - Martin Higgins

Next coach to share some details is Ballinlough's very popular coach, Martin Higgins.


                       Coaches Profile

Name: Martin Higgins

Club(s): Ballinlough TC

Level: 2



1. How long have you been coaching?

1.I’ve been coaching almost 20 years.  I started out helping out my coach when I was 15/16 and absolutely loved it, never looked back since.

2. What got you into coaching?

2.I love the thought of everyday being different.  When I started working with kids, I was having way too much fun (because I’m a bit of a child myself), I knew it was for me.

3. Who is your favourite coach?

3. Favourite coach is a tough one as I’ve been lucky to have had some great coaches and I feel they’ve all added something to my game and as a person. So thanks to Don Ahern , John o Rourke , Ger Flynn , Declan Bray


4. What was your favourite tournament to play in growing up?

4. Loved every tournament to be honest but based on results I loved the Irish closed in Rushbrookealways had a good track record there.

5. Who is your favourite player now and all time (if they differ)?

5. Favourite player growing up was Marat Safin he was an absolute nut job but very entertaining and on his day he was unbelievable. Favourite player now is Federer tennis looks so easy and effortless to him.


6. What is your favourite Grand Slam?

6.   Favourite Grand Slam is definitely Wimbledon.


7. What are your strengths as a coach?

7. Strengths as a coach I think is my understanding of the different variables in tennis and then fitting in the possible solutions. I have a great connection with the kids and adult clients I work with. I’d also say I’m personable and very approachable.


8. What areas do you need to improve?

8. I hope to never stop learning and always open to improving. I’m not shy in asking other coaches for there views on something or running ideas pass them. I’ve no ego whatsoever so I’ll ask the questions if I think it’ll help me help my clients


9. What has been your best moment in tennis so far as a coach?

9. I had loads of great moments of all different sorts as a coach, but one stands out. I won’t name the girl but this girls was a late starter to tennis her younger sister was a good player. Long story short she worked her backside off not being blessed with natural talent some 4 years later she’s playing in a B event in Ballinlough her first ever tournament. She wins this extremely tight match falls to her knees like she just won Wimbledon comes off court in tears of joy and hugs her mum. As a coach seeing this girl work so hard for that moment what a feeling being there to see her achieve it and how much it meant to her best feeling I’ve ever had as a coach.


10. What is the best advice you have received so far?

10. Best advice I’ve ever received was at a tennis clinic with Greg Rusedski said “you don’t need a hammer to break an egg” as a young fella I felt I had to hit every ball as hard as I could especially volleys.


11. What was your first racket was?

11. First proper racket to memory was a Fischer I remember going into Maher’s sports every week for a few months just to see this particular racket pick it up get a feel for it. On Christmas morning there it was for me under the tree I was thrilled.


12. What was the first tournament you played in?

12. First open I played in was the Rushbrookeopen I was under 11 and I played the number 1 seed under 12 Martin Black he beat me well on the day but I was hooked from that day on.


Cork Parks Tennis Camps


Guaranteed fun and a great way to spend your summer.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Irish Tennis Updates podcast interview on Rackets and Strings

I had the pleasure of doing a podcast interview with Adam Wade of Irish Tennis Updates.  If you haven't come across these yet, check out Adam's Facebook page.  He has interviewed some of Irelands best players over the years but also talks to various people in the tennis industry in Ireland.  Some really very interesting interviews.

I really enjoyed my talk with Adam and I hope it is informative for you.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Tennis for the vision impaired - Cork Sports Partnership

๐ŸŽ‰ New Tennis programme for players with a vision impairment commencing Tuesday 1st June ๐ŸŽ‰

Cork Sports Partnership in partnership with Tennis Ireland, Enjoy Tennis Ireland and Vision Sports Ireland are delighted to announce a 4 week beginner tennis programme aimed at adults who are blind or have a vision impairment. ๐ŸŽŠ

The weekly sessions will focus on introducing players to tennis in a fun and safe outdoor environment. ๐Ÿฅณ

Details include: 

๐ŸŽพ 4 week programme, 1 session per week

๐ŸŽพ Tuesday 12 - 1pm 

๐ŸŽพ Ballinlough Tennis Club

๐ŸŽพ Commences Tuesday 1st June 

๐ŸŽพ Dates include: Tues 1st,  8th, 15th and 22nd June 

๐ŸŽพ Cost: Free of Charge!

All equipment for the sessions will be provided to players i.e. racquets and balls. Limited space available! ๐Ÿ™Œ

โ„น️ To register visit:

For more info, email 

#CorkSportsAbility #KeepCorkActive #KeepWell

Cork SportsAbility | CARA Centre | Sport Ireland | NCBI - Working for People with Sight Loss | ChildVision |

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Getting to know the Coaches of Cork - Joanne Williamson

Next up with their profile is Joanne Williamson.  Joanne is a busy woman and coaches at Monkstown Lawn Tennis Club, St. Michaels Tennis Club and Ballinlough Tennis Club.

Coaches Profile


Name: Jo-Anne Williamson 

Club(s): Monkstown, St. Michaels, Ballinlough. Co. Cork

Level: 2


1. How long have you been coaching?

1. I've been coaching for over 30 years! (I’m very old now!) 

2.      What      got      you       into coaching? 

2. Filling in for my coach who was injured & I knew it was for me and passed up my U.S scholarship to go into full time coaching

3. Who is your favourite coach? 

3. I think home grown Paul Casey is one of my favourites! Such passion & intensity is rare when someone has been at the job for such a long length of time! Total respect !!

4. What was your favourite tournament to play in 

growing up? 

4. I always loved the Irish open in Fitzwilliam. I only made a final twice (& came 2nd )  but played plenty of semis.

5. Who is your favourite player now and all time (if they differ)? 

5. One from the history books is Monica Seles, I played table tennis against her when I was in the Bolletteri  Academy and was hooked.  Irish player possibly Scott Barron, I trained with him a lot & his court manner & ability was always outstanding (plus he's so humble!) 

6. What is your favourite Grand Slam? 

6. I love the U.S open, I plan to get there & tie it in with some shopping !!! 

7. What are your strengths as a coach? 

7. I think patience and communication. I've always been told I'm a "people person" so I guess I'm approachable. 

8. What areas do you need to improve? 

8. Everything! Nobody knows it all & I'm happy to learn from those who can teach.  

9. What has been your best moment in tennis so far as a coach? 

9. I've worked with national players right down to schools tennis players and the best moments are always when a player, no matter their standard, says " I'm still playing tennis" that's what it's all about!  

10. What is the best advice you have received so far? 

10. Your volley is only as good as your approach! You can use this in life too! Set yourself up well with positivity around you and you'll succeed! 

Very philosophical! 

11.     What    was    your     first racket? 

11. I was 9/10 years old when I started and remember a wooden Dunlop Maxiply (oh God just showed my age!) 

12.     What     was     the      first tournament you played in? 

12. A round Robin in my holiday home in 

Rosslare! The first real recognised tournament though was The Barniville Babes held in Fitzwilliam in Dublin. I lost 0 & 0 the first year and won it the following year winning a years worth of sponsored coaching! 



Great Honour for Cork coach Cian Blake.

 Cork coach and Performance Director of Munster Tennis, Cian Blake, has just being named co-captain of the Irish mens tennis team for the upcoming Davis Cup matches.  This is a great honour and recognition for all the hard work Cian has been putting into tennis for the last few years.

Below is the announcement that was made on the Tennis Ireland website.

Best of luck Cian, enjoy the event and I expect a detailed article for the blog on your return.


Ireland will compete in the Davis Cup Europe Group III event in Larnaca, Cyprus from 

16th to 19th June with the goal of qualifying for the Group II playoffs later in the year.

The official draw takes place on 15th June where two pools of teams will be decided.

Other nations in Europe Group III include Cyprus, Luxembourg, Monaco, Georgia, Iceland 

and Malta, with Liechtenstein having withdrawn from the event this year.

The team selected for 2021 is as follows:

Simon Carr

Julian Bradley

Osgar O’hOisin

David O’Hare

With Conor Niland unable to travel as Captain, Munster Performance Director Cian Blake 

and Ulster Performance Director, Carlos Miranda will be travelling in his place for 

the tie as Co-Captains.

Speaking of the tie, Conor Niland said:

“Due to current Covid travel quarantines being unfeasible with our full-time jobs, unfortunately 

both myself and the assistant coach are unable to travel to Cyprus in June for the Davis Cup 

Group 3 tournament.

Two of Tennis Ireland’s regional performance directors, Cian Blake and Carlos Miranda, will be 

standing in for us for the week. It is the first Davis Cup event that I have been unable to travel 

to since my debut as a player against Croatia 21 years ago, and I’m disappointed to be missing it.

I will be in regular contact with the team and deputy coaches throughout the tie and I have no 

doubt that the lads will perform well. I very much look forward to travelling with the team again 

later in the year, where we hope to be involved in a Group 2 play-off tie.”

Tennis Ireland National Performance Coordinator, Garrett Barry said “In what has been a very 

difficult year for sport, Tennis Ireland is delighted to be able to send our national team to the Davis 

Cup. A combined effort between our Captain, Conor Niland, the staff at Tennis Ireland, our 

colleagues in Sport Ireland, the ITF and our ever-willing players has led to the safe planning 

of our participation in Cyprus. I would like to say a particular thank you to Conor for all his 

assistance in preparation for the event. While he cannot make it to Cyprus in person, he has 

been a huge help to interim captains Cian and Carlos.”

Simon Carr added “It’s great to be back playing Davis Cup again after 2 years, we all definitely 

missed playing last year as it’s all of the guys favourite week of the year. I’m really looking 

forward to representing Ireland again and doing our best to gain promotion”.

Getting to know the coaches of Cork - Colin Laffan.

So I sent a questionnaire to the coaches at the various clubs around Cork, for a bit of fun and to help you get to know them.

Here is the first reply from Colin Laffan of Rushbrooke Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and Ballinlough Tennis Club.

A picture containing text, grass, athletic game

Description automatically generated             Coaches Profile

Name: Colin Laffan

Club(s): Rushbrooke Lawn tennis club/Ballinlough tennis club

Level: 2



1. How long have you been coaching?

1. 10 years

2. What got you into coaching?

2. It was my favourite hour of every week growing up I always thought my coach was so lucky to do it as a job. Day one of assisting him it was an easy call to make in my head.

3. Who is your favourite coach?

3. Nick Bollettieri. He was before my time and being honest It was Peter Farrell who suggested I look him up during a call. I can’t remember a week I havn’t watched him coaching to try and learn more off him. Patrick Mouratoglou would be my favorite also. You can tell how much he loves it from watching him.

4. What was your favourite tournament to play in growing up?

4. Rushbrooke. I wasn’t a confident player so needed all the support I could get, especially after Jamie Blake knocks you out of a tournament for the 500th time.

5. Who is your favourite player now and all time (if they differ)?

5. Fernando Gonzalez, best open stance forehand the sport will ever see. 

6. What is your favourite Grand Slam?

6. Wimbledon. I can’t understand why but I just love the traditions and the old school part of it. I'm always glued to it for the 2 weeks. 

7. What are your strengths as a coach?

7. I love technical work slow motion camera the small details most of all the serve. The work off the court is my biggest strength from top court subscription to the world tennis conference I'm constantly learning. 


8. What areas do you need to improve?

8. I think if you attend the world tennis conference at the end of that 3 days you will always realise you need to improve on everything. 

9. What has been your best moment in tennis so far as a coach?

9. Everytime you get that call on the phone from a child who has just won a tournament doesn’t matter if its under 8s a plate or a national title they always sound the same. At times adults sounding a lot like the seven-year-old with the excitement ring me after a win.

10. What is the best advice you have received so far?

10. Start early! I honestly believe if you’re a fulltime coach the latest you can start is 7am.

The days of coaching up to 7pm and 8pm just isn't sustainable and a lot of clubs don’t allow it. If you have a strong consistent morning program the evening will fill itself once the kids get out of school.

11. What was your first racket was?

11. Pure control babolat same as Fernando’s. My poor parents spent a fortune so I could run around pretending I was him.

12. What was the first tournament you played in?

12. Can’t remember but I arrived, was terrified, cried and lost my temper. Luckily for my mom and dad I only continued this behaviour for another 10 years until 17.