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

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 CiarΓ‘n 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

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

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. 🎊

The weekly sessions will focus on introducing players to tennis in a fun and safe outdoor environment. πŸ₯³

Details include: 

🎾 4 week programme, 1 session per week

🎾 Tuesday 12 - 1pm 

🎾 Ballinlough Tennis Club

🎾 Commences Tuesday 1st June 

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

🎾 Cost: Free of Charge!

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

β„Ή️ 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.


Monday, May 17, 2021

Ireland's oldest tennis club still going strong.

 History of the Rushbrooke Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club

Rushbrooke Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club was founded in 1870. Originally it was a croquet club where military officers and professionals from the locality could relax and enjoy the leafy surroundings. Communal croquet lawns were rare in Ireland at the time, as large residences had their own lawns. With the advent of the sport of tennis, many croquet lawns began doubling up as lawn courts as the new sport became more acceptable. The first record of tennis being played in Ireland was in 1875, when the All Ireland Lawn Tennis Club was founded as part of the rugby headquarters at Lansdowne Road. The first record of an official, competitive tennis match was played at Rushbrooke on July 21st, 1880.

The playing facilities in those early days consisted of two lawn courts, with an additional 2 courts added in 1884. This was very likely to appease the croquet players, as tennis lawns suffer significant wear and tear. By 1894, in response to a growing membership, the number of courts was increased to six. The first record of a club pavilion was in 1897, but is believed to have been constructed sometime between 1884 and 1887. Press reports from the summer open tournament in 1884, clearly describe the use of several tents for "the serving of refreshments and other necessary duties", as opposed to any pavilion structure.

The period 1870-1900 witnessed unprecedented growth in the number of tennis clubs emerging throughout the country, with croquet sharing a resurgence of interest. A prominent early player of Rushbrooke was Mr. G. Edwards, who dominated the sport at the club and was considered a "prized asset" on the tennis courts. The Championships of County Cork was first held in 1897 and the title remains at the club to this day. Historically, lawn tennis clubs have always operated where both men and women share equal rights. Women played a significant part in the lift of Rushbrooke from the very beginning, although the club still awaits its first lady chairperson.

A formal lease agreement was signed between the Rushbrooke Club and the Rushbrooke Estate on March 17th, 1893, although the Club had been using the grounds from much earlier. The Club was represented by Mr. James Deane, Mr. Anderson Cooper and Mr. William Henry Beamish. This guaranteed the club's existence for 99 years. Captain William Henry Rushbrooke signed on behalf of the Rushbrooke Estate.

Croquet has always been an integral part of the club. By 1904, the club used ten lawns to successfully run its annual croquet tournament, eight of which were normally dedicated to tennis. In 1907, the club agreed a new lease, which allowed the club's grounds to expand northwards. The Cork International Exhibition of 1902 was a landmark event which attracted many visitors. A showpiece tennis tournament was held where the aforesaid Mr. G. Edwards played the reigning Wimbledon tennis champion, Mr. A.W. Gore, losing 7-5, 7-5, 6-2 in the final.

The changing political climate in Ireland, and the withdrawal of British military forces from what had been Queenstown, and was now renamed Cobh, was widely felt in the town. Both Cobh and the Rushbrooke Club suffered financially. The club continued, and was held in high regard, so much so, that by 1924-5 the club hosted the Senior Irish Close Championship, along with the Munster vs Leinster inter-provincial match. This was the first time the club had hosted such a prestigious competition. The club had survived the political turmoil and upheaval of the early 1920's and was on a solid financial and sporting footing.

The 1920's and 1930's produced some memorable victories for Rushbrooke players with Binkie Harman claiming her first of three Irish Open U-18 titles in 1929, 1931 and 1932. She was the first Rushbrooke player to win this title and remained the club's only winner of the event until June-Ann

Fitzpatrick in 1951. The 1930's witnessed unprecedented growth in the popularity of lawn tennis, brought about by the broadcast on radio of the Wimbledon tournament. In 1931, the Rushbrooke Club had six lawn tennis courts, three croquet lawns, three hard tennis courts and a further lawn area which doubled as a croquet lawn or two tennis courts.

The club had a number of very good players, reflected in the fact that the club won the Munster Cup twice in the 1930s and 1940s, and once in the 1950s. The club was at the forefront in Irish tennis, hosting the Irish Close Championships in both 1935 and 1938, as well as senior inter-provincials. Reduced activity occurred during the 1939-45 war and continued thereafter with subsequent fuel- shortages making it difficult for players not living on the Great Island, to travel to the club. The club continued to have success in competitive tennis, with Gerard Fitzpatrick winning the Junior Irish Open Championships in 1948 and 1949. His sister June-Ann also achieved this honour with her back- to-back wins in 1950 and 1951. Frank Furney, the winner of eight Munster Cups with the club, won the senior boys events in 1946, 1947 and 1948.

During the 1950s, many of the club's players began to make their mark internationally. June-Ann Fitzpatrick, although based then in Dublin, played in the junior Wimbledon in 1951, and seniors in 1954. Her brother Gerard who also played in the junior and senior Wimbledon Championships received his first Irish cap against England in 1950 and his first Davis Cup appearance four years later against Austria.

The 1960s was a difficult time, as interest in tennis dipped in Ireland generally. In 1968 the landmark decision to abandon the distinction between professional and amateur players make tournaments truly "open". By 1972 the club was the venue for the Davis Cup tie against Turkey. This was only the second time an event of this magnitude had been played in Cork. The installation of floodlighting in the 1970's allowed for increased non-daylight activities and supported the club's bar facilities. In 1977, more lawn tennis courts were replaced with a hard court surface, showing the club's willingness to move with the times, and allow the club to cope with the growing membership.

The 1980's saw tennis on a high in Rushbrooke. The showcase event, the Championships of County Cork attracted the Irish no. 1 player, Matt Doyle in 1981, with him also returning with playmate Sean Sorenson for the 1982 event. Top quality tennis was regularly seen at the club and the membership grew accordingly. The club won its first Munster Junior Cup in 1986. The club purchased the freehold of the club's grounds in 1981, ensuring that the club continued to remain a venue where the sports of tennis and croquet would be actively promoted. The club prepared for its centenary in 1984.

In the 1990s the club had 5 hard courts and six lawn tennis courts. Significant investment was made in re-surfacing these courts with more modern surfacing technology. In 2006, the old club pavilion that had served the club since the 1880's was demolished and the new club pavilion built in its place. Although still perceived as a club with a Protestant and Anglo-Irish membership, over the years this has changed significantly, and the membership currently reflects fully the local population, and is "open to all". The members enjoy excellent playing facilities in terms of tennis, croquet and lawn bowling. The new pavilion with its improved viewing, extra space and bar facilities allows for the club to become an asset in the growing social life of the town of Cobh. The club members look forward to a bright future for the club and for sport in the locality of Cork.

From the original: "The Story of Rushbrooke Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club 1870-2007" by Frank McDonnell, available at the Club.