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Gottfried von Cramm Trophy

Gottfried von Cramm Trophy

Event: Gottfried von Cramm Trophy 2023

Venue: Frankfurter Tennis Club Palmengarten

Dates: 31st August – 3 rd September 2023

During the last few days of the Summer, the International Club of Great Britain travelled to Frankfurter Tennis Club Palmengarten for the inaugural Gottfried von Cramm Trophy. A new tournament in the fixtures calendar, which is designed to encourage younger high-level players within the association to compete and socialise with their likeminded counterparts. The competition is named after Gottfried von Cramm, a former French Open winner, three times Wimbledon finalist, founding President of the IC of Germany, and inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Von Cramm played in an era of golden tennis, competing against the likes of Don Budge and Fred Perry. Still, he was most celebrated for combining tennis excellence with a gentlemen’s approach. It is a fitting title for the tournament as the club’s overarching mantra of building lasting connections and friendships through tennis is paramount.

The tournament was hosted on the red clay at one of Germany’s most famous tennis clubs – unsurprisingly, the trio of Matt Kirby, Ben Rogers and Jess Ren were sceptical about British chances on the hallowed “red dirt” given the opposition. After a cordial evening of pleasantries and getting familiar with the hosts and opposition at the ‘Welcome Dinner’, the team were well rested ahead of their first-round encounter with Luxembourg. However, a biblical storm through the night and into the early morning scuppered any chances of playing outdoors, which resulted in a fortuitous move to the indoor carpet! The GB team felt right at home in the benign conditions, and there was a notable buzz around the club as the team charged for victory. Matt Kirby and Jess Ren produced dominating performances over the Luxembourgians, followed by a stellar performance by Ben Rogers and Jess Ren in the mixed doubles in what appeared to be an age-old partnership. The tennis was a hugely entertaining fixture, played in great spirits, with some high-calibre tennis on display throughout the day. Following the matches, all players and guests dined at the club in a more formal setting for the ‘IC Dinner’, where presentations were exchanged, speeches were made, and plenty of food and drink was consumed.

The following day, all teams were back to the business of competition and managed to warm up on the red clay as the weather was Wunderbar. The GB team were through to the semi-final against Germany, a match that wouldn’t be decided by penalties this time! The German team sheet gave rise to some exceptional talent – Benjamin Becker (former ATP Singles No.35, NCAA Team and Individual Champion) and Anna-Lena Grönefeld (now Herzgerodt, former WTA Singles No.14, 2 x Mixed Doubles Grand Slam Champion). The IC of GB fought admirably in both singles matches but were eventually stunted by an inspired German team that were clinical in their play on their home surface. The British duo of Ben Rogers and Jess Ren restored some balance to the fixture as they mounted an impressive victory over their German opposition in the mixed doubles, winning a dramatic match tie-break in front of a partisan crowd. Despite falling short, it was an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to compete against players of this standard, and the memories will be cherished for many years. After the conclusion of the matches, we were afforded the opportunity to visit downtown Frankfurt, viewing the skyline from an observation deck, recording a segment for a radio station, and finishing with a ‘Player’s Party’ in Karben. A particular highlight of the evening was the spontaneous dance-offs that many players decided to embark upon. A truly unforgettable evening that everyone celebrated.

The final day of tennis was a battle against our good friends from across the North Atlantic Ocean for third place. For the second day in a row, we were fortunate (or not) to play outside on the red clay in soaring temperatures. The first-round match resulted in a minor setback for the British as Jess Ren was set another monumental task of trying to outlast Mallory Burdette (former WTA No.68 and 2 x NCAA Doubles Champion). Despite her best efforts and some ‘highlight reel’ tennis, the American former professional showed her class and proved too strong. The hopes of a podium finish rested firmly on Matt Kirby’s shoulders; the former golden hurricane from Tulsa rose to the challenge and forced a mixed doubles decider after some textbook clay court match play. This momentum carried the British pair over the line for a well-deserved victory against their US opponents, in which there appeared to be many turning points. It was fitting for a match of this stature to be decided on the final rubber, but it was no surprise that the US were gracious in defeat. The final stages of the tournament involved a small prize-giving ceremony for the exceptionally worthy German winners and a collection of gifts for all players involved in the tournament.

It must be mentioned that the IC of GB are particularly grateful to all the respective ICs for committing to the event with great players that were fantastic ambassadors for their club and country. Additionally, thank you to the British cohort of players and organisers who have taken time out of their busy schedules to represent the club and host our fellow IC members. Tennis has the power to unite people from diverse backgrounds, and the sense of community was unmistakable during the tournament. The final word must go to Alex Kurucz, The Tournament Committee, and Frankfurter Tennis Club Palmengarten for their remarkable administration and execution of the event. We very much look forward to competing again in the Gottfried von Cramm Trophy in 2024. Ben Rogers IC of GB Gottfried von Cramm Trophy Captain 2023

 

IC of GB vs IC of Luxembourg:

Matt Kirby d. Thomas Burgermeister: 6-2 6-3

Jessica Ren d. Tatjana Silbereisen: 6-2 6-2

Ben Rogers & Jessica Ren d. Thomas Burgermeister & Tatjana Silbereisen: 7-5 6-4

IC of GB vs IC of Germany:

Benjamin Becker d. Matt Kirby: 6-2 6-3

Anna-Lena Herzgerodt d. Jessica Ren: 6-4 6-2

Ben Rogers & Jessica Ren d. Benjamin Becker & Natali Gumbrecht: 3-6 6-3 10-8

IC of GB vs IC of USA:

Matt Kirby d. Shaun Chaudhuri: 6-3 7-5

Mallory Burdette d. Jessica Ren: 6-2 6-3

Matt Kirby & Jess Ren d. Shaun Chaudhuri & Ali Rauh: 3-6 7-6(4) 10-7

 

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