The Czech Republic
Czechoslovakia became part of the Soviet Bloc in 1948 after the communist uprising backed by the Russians. In 1968, a period of liberalisation and mass protest known as the “Prague Spring” was violently ended when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia. In January 1993, as communism was crumbling all over Europe, Czechoslovakia split into two sovereign states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Markéta Vondroušová and Miriam Kolodziejová the Australian Juniors Champions in 2015. They also won the Junior French Open. Earlier in their careers they won the Carrickmines Cup.
The I.Cesky Club from Prague are the standard-bearers in the largest of all Centenary Tennis Clubs competitions, “The Carrickmines Cup”. I.Cesky have won the Cup more times than all the other Clubs combined. The competition is for U12s and gives aspiring players their first opportunity to play internationally and on grass courts. Many great players have come from this great club including Wimbledon Champions Jaroslav Drobny and Jan Kodes.
Markéta Vondroušová and Miriam Kolodziejová on the left in Carrickmines in 2008.
Markéta became the first teenager to contest a Grand Slam final for a decade when she reached the final of Roland Garros in 2019. She lost to Australian Ashleigh Barty. Markéta won the silver medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics defeating Grand Slam champion and home favourite Naomi Osaka on the way.
She is a former world No. 1 junior, having won two junior Grand Slam Doubles titles.
1983 Czechoslovakia FED Cup champions.
Visitors to Carrickmines with their I.Cesky juniors over the years include former Grand Slam players and Fed Cup Champions, NP Captain Jan Kukal (above) and Iva Budařová .
Iva Budařová in action at Wimbledon
Ireland was comprehensively outclassed by Czechoslovakia in Prague in the Davis Cup tie in 1977. The Irish cause was not helped when the number one player, Michael Hickey had to return to Dublin with a back injury. The remaining players were Jim McArdle, Peter Ledbetter and John O’Brien.
The Czechs were among the favourites having been runners up two years earlier to Sweden – the Swedes first triumph!
Czechoslovakia went on to win the Davis Cup in 1980 for the first time.
Ronan Fearon, Ireland Davis Cup Captain and Carrickmines member for over fifty years with the great Jaroslav Drobný.
Ronan’s three daughters Denise, Sandra and Alison all played on the Carrickmines 1st team that reached the Class 1 final in 1993.
Jaroslav Drobný was a two-time French Open Champion in 1951 and 1952 and the Wimbledon Champion in 1954. He also won the French Doubles with Lennart Bergelin of Sweden and incredibly also won a World Championship title in ice hockey! He is the only man ever to win Wimbledon wearing glasses.
He defected from Czechoslovakia following the Russian backed coup d’état of 1948.
Karen Nugent in action against Martina Navratilova at the RDS in 1993.
Karen was the County Dublin Champion in 1999, 2003 & 2004.
Martina Navratilova is Wimbledon’s finest. She won the women’s singles title a record nine times and twenty titles in total equalling Billie Jean King’s record. Navratilova, Margaret Court and Maureen Connolly share the distinction for the most consecutive major singles titles (six).
Like Drobny, Martina was fiercely opposed to Communism and defected. Navratilova became a US citizen in 1981. In 2008, she reacquired Czech citizenship.
Jan Smolinsky and his great friend Jaroslav Drobný spearheaded the Czechoslovakia European Davis Cup success in 1947.
Former Czech Davis Cup Captain, Vladislav Savrda, Jan Pecha the Technical Director of Czech tennis, and Alex Kelly of Carrickmines
Club members Alex, Jack and Andrea Kelly (Jan’s granddaughter) presented a book on Jan Smolenski on behalf of Carrickmines C & LTC to 1. Cesky Club in Prague in 2018.
Pat Crowe, Jan Pecha and Club President Pat Delaney presenting the 2013 Carrickmines Cup to I.Cesky