- The IRTPA
- About Real Tennis
- World Championships
- National League
This eliminator goes down to the wire. Sayers wins 6/5 in the 5th.
The club was packed, around 110 spectators and the noise was deafening, the ‘buzz’ of anticipation pervaded amongst those present. The majority of whom were for their ‘man’ Steve Virgona. Of course, it was the same for Bryn Sayers’ leg at Queen’s Club, but there Steve Virgona is well known, liked and respected from the years he has been playing and living in England; and he has a very loyal followers, many of whom were present. For Bryn Sayers in Chicago it was different, a new experience, had never played on the court and for many of the audience an unknown quantity other than their knowing he is one of the world’s top players, but had been trounced the week before in the first leg at Queen’s Club.
The first set was all Steve and he very quickly went to a 3/0 lead. Then 4/1, 4/2, 5/2, 6/2. In the second set Steve went to a 2/0 lead but Bryn pegged him back and the score stayed even until 3/3. That was the last game Bryn won. Second set to Steve 6/3. However, there was a ‘not up’ call against Bryn, he could not believe it and a new intensity from that point came into his game. The third set saw this happen it was level pegging until 4/4 and Bryn then went ahead and won the set 6/4. The fourth set was all Bryn; Steve was making errors, not hitting targets and Bryn had a turn of speed more akin to Virgona and Riviere’s. Bryn won the 4th set 6/1.
© Tim Edwards
The fifth and final set. It looked as if it was going to be a one way street as Steve went to a 4/1 lead. He was hitting freely again in those first five games but Steve looked as if he was going off the boil as Bryn dug deep and brought the score back to 4/3. The crowd was going wild for Steve and he went 5/3 up. Bryn though brought the score back to 5/5. It was a Herculean effort on Bryn’s part and you could have heard a pin drop at the start of the final game. Steve went to a 30/0 lead, with those two balls from Bryn being over-hit and going out of court. It was then 30/15 and finally Steve had match points at 40/15. Surely, Steve would be able to convert one of those points? Steve though was completely caught out. He was at the serving end and put a ball, with weight, down towards the tambour. Bryn ran for it, got his racket to it and at the same time Steve called out “Yes”; he thought the ball wasn’t up, for Steve he had the rush of having won the match, but the ball floated up past Steve to a chase of around 2. From this point all Bryn had to do was hold his nerve. He did and took the final set 6/5.
So, this eliminator is now 1 match apiece and the decider will be played on Thursday 27th.