Robert Fahey is a name that many of you will not know. But in the annals of sports, he will surely have to feature prominently for his latest exploit. He has accomplished the outstanding feat of 9 consecutive world Real (or Court for the Americans) Tennis championship titles, dating back to 1994. Fahey (IRT profile), 40, from Tasmania, Australia, beat 21-year-old American, Camden Riviere, from Aiken, South Carolina, at the marvellous Chateau of Fontainebleau in a most hotly contested final this past weekend. The match was played over THREE days with Fahey pulling it out 7/5 in the 12th set. The tournament has been played every other year since 1996, meaning that with 9 titles, Fahey has been ruling the world of real tennis for 15 years. By taking the 9th title, he has also by-passed the French legend of the jeu de paume, Pierre Eschebaster who dominated for 26 years the court tennis world. Of course, Eschebaster would probably have won more titles had the war not interrupted his string of victories. Fahey, whose nickname is “Bag” (perhaps as in ‘he has it in the bag’), has also won the the consecutive doubles World Championships played on the off years.
I am, myself, the proud owner of a real tennis racquet and have participated in two tournaments in my life (the second, in doubles, afforded me to progress to the second round thanks to my willing and able partner, Forman Wickes). I very much enjoy the spirit of the game and there is no doubt that the sporting challenge is up there. Clearly, this is not the most hotly contested of sports in the world, and you have to be super dedicated to find one of the few courts around (there are just three in France for example). But, it is a wonderful game replete with nostalgic quirks, scoring and humour.
Well done to Fahey. I dare say 2010 should be a great tournament as well… Will the “new generation” make it?
If you want to read a fun write-up on the sport, see Edward Reeves’ article “The New Racketeers”.