Coming off the back of such a successful year, expectations are high for UCD tennis this year. Last time out, the club achieved intervarsity glory for the ladies’ team, who, along with the men’s seconds, were also successful in their quest for victory in the Dublin Winter League. The early signs for this year are good, with a strong new membership contingent on board and some promising results to boot.
There is also a strong international flavour to the membership this year, with countries as far flung as Canada, India and China being represented on what are surely the finest courts in South Dublin. At the forefront of minds this autumn is the Dublin Floodlight League in which a lady’s and three men’s teams are competing. Winning starts for three of those teams augurs well for the season ahead which is packed full of activity. Before the conclusion of the Floodlight League around Halloween, the team will travel to Belfast to face off against Queen’s University.
Next up is the annual autumnal tussle with old rivals Trinity College – something UCD will be highly motivated to win having narrowly lost last year’s joust. Buoyed by the addition of new coach Ciarán Fitzgerald, who plied his trade with University of San Diego, attention will then turn to the intervarsity’s in Cork after Christmas where some of the finest young tennis talent in Ireland will be on display. Chief among them will be UCD’s premier addition this year, Jacob Nicolussi. The Italian has previously competed on the ITF Tour and was recently the recipient of a hard-earned UCD sports scholarship.
In addition to its regular coaching on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the club hopes to build on its social tennis initiative of last year which allowed beginners to learn a new sport whilst having fun in the process.
Men’s Captain Eoin Donohoe is one of many who have high hopes for the year ahead. “We want to continue on from last year’s success. With a men’s and women’s Winter League win and the women taking home their fourth varsities in a row, we want to emulate this and push on from there. We have a lot of great prospects with a trip to Queen’s coming up soon and National College Championships at the end of the month. We would like to say a big thank you to captains Sam Totterdell and Aoife Tonna-Barthet for their hard work last year. We’ve had a very positive start to the year with our biggest intake of members, ranging from complete beginners to top-level tennis players.”
Having made huge progress, and achieved so much, under last year’s coach Fionn Donnelly, Donohoe hopes the new man in charge can build on his predecessor’s winning formula: “Trainings have been competitive and enjoyable with our new coach Ciaran Fitzgerald. He has really taken to the job well and is looking forward to working closely with all our members in UCD this year.”
In a bold- and maybe somewhat ambitious statement- Donohoe also affirms his main goal for the year which is to “do the triple: men’s and women’s cups and the men’s bowl.” And with a bit of luck and a kind draw, anything is possible for this current crop of talented players. A big year beckons. It should be ace!
Neil Stokes – Sport Writer