His Royal Highness, the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward visited the Ballarat Real Tennis court on Sunday April 8 as part of an initiative associated with the Duke of Edinburgh (DoE) Awards.

HRH The Earl of Wessex is aiming to play all 48 Real Tennis courts in the world in 2018 as part of a Tennis Challenge, to raise funds that will allow more young people to get involved in the DoE scheme. Despite there being few remaining courts in the world, there are four courts within 45 minutes of Bacchus Marsh. Real tennis is also known as Royal Tennis, Court Tennis and Jeu de Paulme.

The BMG team was the first to arrive at the court and had the very important job of warming it up with some doubles games. The round robin format gave all teams an opportunity to sharpen up their skills and for their parents to see the game in action. The games were friendly, however, very competitive. At the conclusion of the games, the Tennis Professional ran a masterclass session with the team to fine tune their skills. Towards the end of the students’ masterclass, HRH The Earl of Wessex arrived and watched the Masterclass. HRH, Prince Edward then joined the team on court to discuss Real Tennis and the students’ involvement in the Duke of Edinburgh Award. The normally vocal team was uncharacteristically quiet but in their defence, the team is not accustomed to playing and training in front of a large audience with Television and print media cameras surrounding them as they converse!

The afternoon concluded with the team and their families watching HRH Prince Edward play 3 sets of doubles tennis against a range of junior and senior players. As the coach of our BMG Real Tennis team, it was a proud moment to hear onlookers and current players praise our team members for their skills. Personally, the highlight of my afternoon was having the opportunity to listen to individual team members explain the rules and intricacies of the original racquet sport to their parents.

It was a unique opportunity for our school to be involved with this event and for our students to play and train in front of their parents, a wide audience and a member of the Royal family. I’m sure it is something that both they and their parents will remember for some time.

I’d like to thank the School for their support, the students for giving up a day of their holidays to be involved and the parents and families of the team members for travelling with them and being part of the day.

Rohan Bryan