Lawn Tennis in Beecroft and Cheltenham.


Surprisingly, lawn tennis is a sport where its international history is only slightly longer than the local story.

While tennis has been a game played for many centuries, the playing of the game in an outdoor setting is a comparatively recent innovation. This form of the game is first mentioned when Major General T H Gem and his Spanish friend Mr J B Perera teamed with some local doctors to form a lawn tennis club in 1872 at Leamington Spa, England.[1]  A competition at Wimbledon was first held in 1875 and the earliest Lawn Tennis Association was formed in the United Statesin 1881.[2]

This international popularity, which happened at the same time as the rise of recreation clubs from the 1870s,[3]was also reflected in the colony of New South Waleswhere, during the final years of the nineteenth century, tennis was becoming increasingly popular as a social pastime. Here an intercolonial tennis tournament was played at Moore Park in 1889 and an Australasian Lawn Tennis Association was formed in 1904.[4]

 In the then rural villages of Beecroft and Cheltenham, in 1895 a group of residents formed the Kennedya Tennis Club and played on the court of Mr Henry Perdriau in Copeland Road Beecroft. In the neighbouring villageof Carlingforda public meeting was called at Harpers Post Office Store in September 1896 to form a public tennis club.[5]The following year saw Edward Terry open some tennis courts at the Recreation Club Grounds at EastCarlingfordPark.[6]Later, in 1905, another Lawn Tennis Club was formed at the two tennis courts of Mrs W Shields, Mobbs Hill (also now forming part of Carlingford).[7]

A large number of private residences had, and a number still do, an adjacent tennis court.

Kennedya Tennis Club

“The pretty little village of Beecroft was quite ‘on fete’ last Saturday, the occasion being the opening of the Kennedya’ a private tennis club, by the president, Mr H Perdriau…..their position is an admirable one, as it commands a pretty winding view of the railway line and the surrounding residences. …..The scene was then a most animated one, the players making quite a pretty picture on the gaily decorated courts, whilst the ladies of the committee, all in their club colours (violet and blue) were busy dispensing afternoon tea. The setting sun came all too quickly for the players and a most enjoyable afternoon drew to a close amidst the hearty good wishes of all present.”[8]

Kennedya is a native climbing plant better known now as the hardebergia. It has small blue and violet (or sometimes white) flowers. It would look particularly pretty growing on netting surrounding a tennis court.

While established on the land of Mr Perdriau and with the same gentleman as Club President, the club had a separate club captain, annual meetings held in the school room of Miss Ogden’s School (Miss Ogden also being on the committee) and annual reports on the success of the club in competitions. This was not just a past time but a serious sporting club.[9]

With the sale of the land occupied by the courts to Mr Skellett (already a member of the club) to build his two storey home on the south side of Copeland Road East,[10]it was necessary to build new courts.  In 1898 work began on new tennis courts for the club on the village green.[11]Building work was undertaken by Mr Willis and Mr Joe Seale who drew the plans and undertook the surveying. The new courts were opened in January 1899.[12]

Competitions continued to be held. Later that same year, a ladies competition saw the club lose every set to the Avoca club at Granville. Those playing for Beecroft were Misses Seale, Skellett, Herring and Read.[13]Amongst the player from Granville was a Mrs Hilder.[14]

By 1900 the club had a membership of 30 and assets of 12 pounds 5 shillings and 7 pence. The club held 2 tournaments during the year, a mixed double handicap (won by Joseph and Dora Seale defeating Mr Harrison and Mrs Wachsmann) and an annual dance.[15]Two years later the membership had grown to almost 40 and the club had erected its first club pavilion.[16]

During the First World War fund raising activities for the Red Cross war effort were held at the club and an inter club match with Cheltenham, in 1916 raised 50 pounds – the same amount as it took to build the club just 17 years before.

In 1917, the trustees of the Village Green leased further land to the club to permit it to build new turf courts. The rental charged was 5 pounds (10 dollars).

The first recorded Ladies Open Singles Champion was Miss Murray in 1913. In 1917 Alan North won the Open Mens Singles. The same Alan North won the NSW Mens Open Doubles aged 101 years.

After the First World War, members decided to build two new grass courts, convert the three existing gravel courts to grass and extend the pavilion. In 1919 men paid an annual subscription of 3 pounds 6 pence and women 1 pound 10 shillings. A £50 bank loan was secured and repaid, but in 1921 additions to the pavilion cost $201. A fete on the Village Green in 1920 and another in 1921 brought in £145 and £148 respectively.

Beecroft Tennis Club tennisclub

In 1921, the Club had become a lawn tennis club and became affiliated with the New South Wales Lawn Tennis Association, the forerunner of Tennis New South Wales, and began entering teams in the inter-club Badge Competition. It was known at this time (and subsequently) as the Beecroft Lawn Tennis Club. This affiliation with Tennis NSW and entry into metropolitan tennis competitions took place almost a quarter of a century before the Cheltenhamclub. Clearly the change from tennis being a sport rather than a past time took place considerably earlier. To fund this transition, those men who played badge paid a higher subscription of 5 pounds 6 shillings. As well, a special loan fund was set up and members lent the club sums at 5% interest. Many of these loans, however, were still not repaid in 1939. Many sums contributed were small but Dr Holt lent £50 as did Mr Robert Vicars. Again, unlike the Cheltenham Club while local supporters were generous there were no significant patrons who dominated the club organisation.

The 1930s depression affected the club’s finances seriously. Subscriptions brought in £240 in the year ended July 1930 but two years later, at the height of the Depression, they had fallen to £152 when annual fees had been reduced. It may have been at this time, to save groundsman’s fees, that the members were called on during the summer closure to plant grass and do the topdressing. These annual working bees continued until 1982.

Wally Hall, a ‘partially paid’ fireman at Beecroft Fire Station, was groundsman in the 1930s. His dual roles could conflict. On one occasion Wally was working on the courts when he heard the siren of the fire engine and observed it setting off to attend a fire. Children at BeecroftPublic School enjoyed the spectacle of Wally racing back to the fire station to collect his bicycle. He was then seen peddling as hard as he could after the fire engine, cheered on by the children in the school playground.

1940s – 1960s

Beecroft remained small enough for Badge and social players to mix at social tournaments, but men, especially Badge players, remained influential. When she joined in the 1950s Joan Austin was told approvingly that she made a fine cup of tea. In 1964 Cliff Gibson, who operated a business manufacturing shop fittings and was unavailable to join working bees, designed and constructed the sets board as a gift to the club. Its design ensured players of all standards met and played together and that a fair number of mixed doubles were played. Cliff’s sets board is still in use.

By this time, the old timber clubhouse was dilapidated and neighbours regarded it as an eyesore. The only seating was on the verandah, and the minute kitchen consisted of little more than a sink for washing up the cups and saucers after afternoon tea, served by the women members. The toilets were out the back of the building and there were no hot showers. In 1957 Hornsby Shire Council offered £2000 for the building of a new brick clubhouse, and an additional £1000 was obtained as a bank loan. The new clubhouse allowed social events to be held which raised funds to maintain the courts, repair fences, replace equipment and repay the bank loan. The Annual Dance and Presentation of Trophies began at this time. More women played regularly on Thursdays, but Sunday play, especially during church hours, was not approved.

The Schubert Shield competition between Beecroft Lawn Tennis Club and Cheltenham Recreation Club, began at this time. It is played once a year on the tennis courts of both clubs. Alan Schubert, a local building contractor, was at different times a member of both Beecroft Lawn Tennis Club and Cheltenham Recreation Club. When he died suddenly in 1960, the Schubert family donated the Schubert Shield for this friendly annual tournament between the clubs. His son, John, now a life member, joined in 1948 aged 15, served a term as President and still plays (in 2010) with the Veterans’ Club.

1980s – 2010

The Club’s financial problems were solved when two courts were converted to artificial grass and lights installed to allow night play. These courts became available for hire, ensuring a regular income from hirers. At last the Club was able to employ a professional groundsman to do work previously done by the members. The standard of the grass courts present improved. Saturday nights became social nights for members, who stayed into the evening for a shared meal and social tennis until 10 p.m. A social committee organised whist nights and dances. Stan Bowman (President 1983 – 4) and June, his wife, who served as social convenor, persuaded the committee to found a successful Veterans’ Club.

Pat Walker began a career in tennis management when she served as a Beecroft Club delegate to the NSWLTA. She joined the NSW Tennis Umpires Association and was elected its President in 1982. Later, as President of the national body of umpires, she oversaw the design and inception of a volunteer training program for linesmen and umpires to provide accredited officials at major tournaments. As an international umpire, Pat was invited to be a chair umpire at the Los Angeles Olympic Games, one of only two international women. For a number of years she was Chief of Officials at the NSW Open and worked at numerous Davis Cup ties.

In October 1998 Beecroft Lawn Tennis Club celebrated its centenary at a lunch held at Oatlands House. Geoff Pollard, President of Tennis Australia, and John Whittaker, President of Tennis NSW, attended. Fittingly, in the same year, Beecroft’s top Badge team[17]won the 1/1 Badge competition. A club founded by a group of Beecroft families had grown to become a Northern Districts institution.

CheltenhamRecreation Club: Tennis

Patrons and munificence

Within Cheltenham, one of the largest landholders, William Harris was a man who used the land around his home for pleasure and recreation rather than agriculture. He was a keen sportsman. On 30 October 1912 he hosted a gathering of fifteen local male residents[18](all of whom could be described as upper middle class in occupation and financial means) at his home “Edensor.” At this meeting he offered to donate 2 acres from his garden to establish a recreation club for the playing of bowls, tennis, croquet and other similar games. The grounds for the club were to be in addition to private bowling greenwhich he maintained closer to his house. Of the other founding members private tennis courts were also owned by at least Messrs Chorley, Holcombe and Tucker. 

Following this private function, a public meeting was held at the Beecroft School of Arts on 7 February 1913 at which a committee of 7 was appointed; subscription rates were set and a promotional scheme agreed upon to encourage membership of the proposed Cheltenhamrecreation club. The land was transferred to the newly incorporated club on 28 June 1913 and construction commenced on two tennis courts, a four rink bowling green, a croquet lawn. Finance was raised by the issuing of 100, five pound debentures. The first shelter was approved for building in November 1914. A third tennis court was built around 1925.

The establishment of a tennis section within a recreation club, formed for playing a number of sports, is typical of the early years of lawn tennis elsewhere. Wimbledonis a pre-eminent example of tennis being played at the All England Croquet Club. Likewise in 1878 the Melbourne Cricket Club built tennis courts or, to give a third example the Geelong Lawn Tennis Club was started as part of the Geelong Recreation Grounds.[19]

The formation of the Cheltenham club, and its early membership (unlike Beecroft Club) provides a local example of what was happening in Englandat the same time, where it is said that these sporting clubs:

“grew out of a local urban oligarchy reflecting in range and scale the opportunity for participation across the board…instruments of relatively fine social differentiation and arbiters of public custom. For their core of dedicated members they offered a way of life, and additional layers of recognition, occasionally as alternatives to those provided by economic roles in status reinforcement…. Power lay in the hands of the founding members, if only because of the key financial role some of them played in club life, with loans to help in acquiring grounds. They admitted new members and dissension is a rare sight in club minutes and annual meetings: where it occurred an anonymity of recording suggests a careful keeping of control, an assumed solidarity.”[20]

Elsewhere in Australiaand England, tennis at this time was played largely by upper-class men and women, with images being recorded of long dresses, ornamental hats, afternoon tea and gentle exertion.[21] As one historian has written “The popular saying ‘anyone for tennis?’ instantly connoted social privilege and a leisured life style.”[22]

Tennis was generally regarded as a pastime rather than a sport at this time. A noted English sportsman, Spencer Gore, said in 1890 that anyone who had

“played really well at cricket, tennis or even rackets would never take up lawn tennis, the monotony of which would choke him off before he had time to excel in it.”[23]

Another contemporary comment of the game in Englanddescribes the conditions in Cheltenhama few decades later:

“The scene should be laid on a well-kept garden lawn. There should be a bright warm sun overhead…Near at hand, under the cool shadow of a tree, there should be strawberries and cream, iced claret mug, and a few spectators who do not want to play but are lovers of the game…If all of these conditions are present, an afternoon spent at lawn tennis is a highly Christian and beneficent pastime.”[24]

This attitude to tennis is reflected in taunts made during World War 1 to men of another Sydneyrural village where one letter writer caustically put it:

“As I, who have a wife and four young children, have been singled out more than once to go to the war, by sons and dependents of the local reigning family who have no responsibilities [but can be seen from the local railway station playing tennis]….. The playing of lawn tennis on Sundays in so public a manner savours distinctly of ostentation, and is more offensive on that account then in the religious aspects of the question. If these flannelled young men are not out on Sundays to ostentate before people on the railway stations, why do they not select a quiet spot on the family estate out of the public site.” [25]

This view of lawn tennis as a pastime or social activity, if perhaps even of indolence, continued in this recreation club for its first few decades – as did the support of its primary patron. In 1948, Mr Harris donated a second parcel of land upon which were built a second bowling greenand two more tennis courts. They were opened on Australia Day 1950. The club continued to expand with, in 1954, work commencing on a new club house being built in memory of William Harris who had died the year before. It was opened on 13 April 1957. At the Diamond Jubilee of the Club in 1974, Julie Harris (the daughter of the late William Harris) donated trophies to both the mens and ladies champions on the day.[26]The minutes of the tennis club previously recorded in 1951 the death of Mr W Chorley[27](the founder of the villageof Cheltenham– named after his birthplace in England) and then in 1953 the death of Mr W Harris.[28]After almost half a century, the age of the founding gentleman patrons, neither (it must respectfully be said) great players of tennis, had passed.

A sense of place

The tennis section of Cheltenham Recreation Club originally comprised people from the surrounding area and not surprisingly they had close connections with events happening around them. While there is little information about any of the club’s activities for the war effort during the First World War, during the Second World War camouflage nets were made at the club and, together with food parcels, shipped to Cheltenham in England. Following the war the flag and badge of a sporting club in Cheltenham Englandwere received as a thank you and were adopted as the flag and badge of this Club.

Following the war, and with a continuing growth in interest, the physical facilities continued to expand. For these developments the club was reliant entirely on its own fund raising capabilities. The club did however utilise open space that formed part of the original gift. Two further tennis courts (this time loam) and a third bowling greenwere added in 1959. The greater difficulty in fund raising is however also demonstrated by a motion passed by the Tennis Section in 1960 that it “deplores the methods used by the Board for the maintenance of the Club’s tennis courts”.[29]

Tennis Section events start to impinge on the amenity of the surrounding area from the mid-1960s. Cheltenhamis a suburb noted for its tree line avenues and the street on the northern side of the courts was no exception, with an avenue of brush box on the southern side adjacent to the tennis courts. By the mid-1960s the trees were of a mature size and starting to cast shadows over the lawn court with an impact on play but, more importantly, causing difficulties with the grass. In response, in 1964 prunus trees were planted along this street with the intention (which subsequently came about) that as the prunus trees grew the brush box would be removed and so, also, the longer shadows and would be removed. This was one of the first decisions that started to raise tensions with neighbouring residents.[30]

In 1981 the conversion of the tennis courts (traditionally four lawn and two hard court) to synthetic grass was commenced with two synthetic courts opened on 3 May 1981, although first played in 28 February 1981.[31]In 1991 the replacement of courts 3 & 4 with a concrete base and conversion to synthetic grass was partially funded by a grant from the NSW State Government. Prior to these new court surfaces being installed the main objection in 1990 which came from all the neighbours (with one exception) was that of noise.[32]Lights for the new synthetic courts were proposed in 1995 with discussions held with the Civic Trust, on behalf of the local residents, during 1996[33]and added to courts 3 and 4 in 1998. Significant issues raised during these discussions were the concerns of local residents about the hours during the night when these lights would be operational and any possible increase in parking on neighbouring streets.[34]

The cost for this new work was again met by debentures (a form of self funding) from members. While individual patrons no longer existed the membership remained sufficiently wealthy to be able to raise finds without resorting to external lenders.

Planning for 2 further courts commenced in 2000.[35]But instead of this work patches to the synthetic grass were made between 2000 and 2002. This was seen as a cost effective response to the wear and tear on the courts. Price, and the recognition of what could be raised from members, in the post patronage era were important factors to consider.

From pastime to sport

The tension between tennis as a pastime and as a competitive sport came to the fore during the decades following the Second World War. It was usually represented by one of two debates within the tennis section. One of these concerned the ability of women to use the tennis courts as the women members were not as keen to play weekend competition tennis until the 1980s. The other concerned the question of whether membership should be open to people who lived in the neighbourhood or whether the numbers should be capped and the membership criteria based solely upon skill at the game of tennis. In this latter question, the rise of interest in competitive tennis for men, was again a relevant factor.

Membership was capped in 1952 at 40[36]rising to 59 by the late 1950s, to 70 in 1964,[37]153[38]in 1974 and 250 in 1988.[39]By 1993 the number fell to 202 [40]but this number was then maintained for the next decade.[41]By 2006 membership numbers again commenced to fall (irrespective of being capped) and reached about 170.[42]

The founder members of the Recreation Club were well established landholders in the district. While the First World War was only 2 years away from the club’s foundation, none of the men linked to the tennis section at this time are recorded as going to war. While young men clearly played tennis they did so as a social event, as a past time and as a way of mingling with young ladies, rather than competitively. They did not record it as a major sporting event in their lives. It is not surprising that one of the leading Australian players at this time, Norman Brookes, first played at Wimbledonin 1905 – at the age of 28. 

In 1950 one of the members of the tennis section, Mrs Beer commented on the decrease in social contact with the men wanting to play a higher standard of men’s only tennis.[43]This drive from the men using the club resulted, in 1958 “after a lapse of many years,” with the Tennis Section becoming affiliated with the NSW Lawn Tennis Association, the primary benefit of which was to provide access to tennis competitions.[44]In 1961 consideration to the formation of a badge team[45]was deferred until another lawn court became available.[46]In 1964, approaches were considered but deferred to commence competition in the NSW Lawn Tennis Association Badge Competition.[47]

In 1969 there were 4 teams in Saturday badge (including one in Division 1 and Sections 1 & 2) and 3 mixed Badge teams on Sunday.[48]In 1973 a motion was put at the Annual General Meeting to limit Badge on a Saturday to just 2 teams on one court so as to permit more space and time for social tennis. The vote was lost by 33 votes to 5 in a secret ballot.[49]In 1983 there were 8 teams in Saturday badge and 2 mixed Badge teams on Sundays.[50]In that same year, an additional court was hired at the then Beecroft Squash Centre, Midson Roadto provide an extra court.[51]The highest graded (or 1/1) Mens Badge competition was first won by Cheltenhamin 1986 comprising Jim Watts (captain) John Eldridge, Brian Benson and Graham Carter. In 1988 the number of Badge teams had increased to 12 teams and in 1992 the number of badge teams further increased to 15. [52]In 1990 one of the club’s teams was in each of the 5 top grades of the men’s competition and the top ladies grade. In 2003 the 1/1 Badge team was sponsored to make it possible “to attract players of the necessary standard”.[53]The number of badge teams thereafter fell so that by 2004 there were 7 Ladies’ and 6 Men’s Badge teams.[54]Even so, in 2004 it was still necessary to use outside courts because of the number of competition teams being fielded. Again, the undercurrent of tensions with local residents were ever present as at one of these correspondence was entered into in 2004 because of complaints by neighbours at the number of balls coming over the fences due, it was said, to the use of a private court that had not been designed to cope with the high grade of the tennis that was now being played there.[55]

While the standard of competition tennis may still have been high, this was not reflected in the range of tennis being played more generally within the tennis section. In 1992 the tennis section championship was cancelled through lack of interest.[56]Similarly in the next year, the tennis section championship was struggling to gain sufficient entrants – especially from badge players.[57]In October 1995 it was considered that a significant reason why the tennis courts were not being fully utilised at times other than during competition was that members were dissatisfied with the standard of play of players they are scheduled to play with for social purposes.[58]

As the standard of the tennis being played increased, so did the need to introduce professional support. In 1981 a local tennis coach, John Greig hired the courts for coaching for the first time.[59]Between 1983 and 1994 James Conrad (‘Jim’) Wattswas the coach and one of the leading competitive tennis players for the tennis section.[60]“The Club is privileged to have its association with Jim who has the reputation of being the best coach in the district and we are hopeful that the growth to date [in juniors] will continue next year.”[61]In 1995 Peter Bauchop was appointed coach.[62]In 1999 – 2004 the coach was Brendon Rose[63]with Glen Jackson also doing individual coaching in 2004.[64]

The standard of tennis being played is indicated not just at the team level but also amongst individual players. In 1990, Mick and David Parslow won the father/son World Championships in the USA.[65]Two members (Glen Irwin and Andrew Roumich) won scholarships to study and play tennis in the United Statesin 1994.[66]

As the men were restricting membership of the tennis section to those who played competition tennis, especially on a Saturday afternoon, the respective percentage of club membership which was female, playing both socially mid-week and in week-end competition, was on the rise. By 1969 the percentage of ladies had risen to 2/3 the number of men and this was described as higher than at any time since 1959. The ladies did play in the Sunday afternoon mixed competition but played primarily mid-week.[67]By the 1975/76 year there were 74 ladies as against 80 men who were full time members.[68]Unlike membership of the men, the women had a large proportion of local residents amongst their membership.

In 1956 there had been 64 full (male and female) members of the Tennis Section that years and of these 21 did not live in Beecroft/Cheltenham. Between 1987 and 1992 there were 138 applications for membership. Of these 44 lived in Beecroft or Cheltenham. Comments for rejection show a mix of concern for social activities within the club as well as tennis ability and included such comments as: “emotionally unstabled. Tried to chat up our ladies”; “brother is an odd bod”; “very strange person, not wanted as a member”; “(for a woman) charming, lovable, and an asset to the club”; “(for a man) new neighbour, from conversation is not up to standard, admitted under conditions”.[69]In 1993, only 35 of 185 adult members but 20 of 31 junior members lived in Beecroft/Cheltenham.[70]  In 2003 there was a need to introduce a new procedure designed to select members of an appropriate standard.[71]There was also a problem with “The number of local people who just turn up, expect to play and who do not pay unless challenged”.[72]In 2004 of 146 full members of the club only 48 lived in Beecroft or Cheltenhamalthough all of the 20 junior (ie under 21 years) members did.[73]

Organised junior tennis commenced on Saturday mornings in 1950.[74]It was usually played on the hardcourts. By 1958 the number of junior members was sufficiently high that a separate committee to manage junior tennis was established,[75]but by 1961 of the 69 members 18 were described as half-hearted and 26 had entirely lost interest. On 1 December 1958 Stuart Littlemore and his brother of 5 Kirkham StreetBeecroft were admitted as junior members.[76]

Tennis was not played on a Sunday until 1963. (It was considered in 1961 but there were insufficient applicants.[77]) In June 1995 a membership subgroup that was limited to those who only wanted to play socially on a Sunday was introduced.[78]This was designed to balance the needs of those wanting to play at a competitive standard and those wishing for a broader social function that supported the local community while at the same time achieve a better utilisation of the courts.[79]Formal Sunday play (that had been started in 1984[80]) had been discontinued the year before, in 1994.

As part of a marketing strategy to address falling numbers, a web site was formed as part of the Tennis NSW site in 2003.[81]

Pictures of tennis players in the club’s earliest days show a wide range of apparel and colours being worn. Certainly by the 1940s, if not earlier, all players were wearing white. The 1960s revolution in social mores gave rise to not just competitive tennis but this colourful era meant that for the first time in the tennis section’s history and rules, in 1969 it was felt necessary to specify the colour of clothing (or rather the lack of colour) to be worn on the court.[82]The colour of clothing worn was seen as maintenance of a particular standard – the standard of the amateur gentlefolk. As pressures to raise competitive skills mounted, and the use of the club as a social outlet for the district decreased, this became increasingly irrelevant and the development of a diversity of personal styles became an ever growing trend.

In a number of years up to 1977 the policy of the club to wear only white clothing was re-affirmed.[83]In the following year captains were asked to remind visiting teams of this policy due to the number of times the policy was being breached.[84]At the 1978 annual general meeting, a policy permitting the wearing of pastel coloured clothing was passed together with a motion permitting social players on a Sunday to wear coloured clothing.[85]In 1980 opposition to ‘hard colours’ was affirmed.[86]In 1983 the use of colours was brought into conformity with WhiteCity.[87]In June 1992 it was agreed to allow white tailored slacks, but not white track suit pants, onto the courts – with shorts only being de rigeur for men for a number of decades.[88]In 1994 track suits were allowed to be worn at all times on court.[89]By 2001 men were allowed to wear any coloured shirt provided that it had a colour and white or cream long trousers: but any coloured shorts. Women were allowed to wear any colour dress or skirt and top – but tracksuits had to be white cream or pastel.[90]

Social functions held by the tennis section waxed and waned in popularity. In part this might also have been caused by whether individual members were prepared to contribute the considerable effort needed to organise the social events. The 1970 the annual ball had 150 in attendance.[91]For many years this and other highly successful social events were organised by Bill West. In 1989 the social events were so poorly attended that it was proposed to raise funds by levy rather than hold further events.[92]In 1993 some $5,500 was raised by the social committee.[93]  And by 2004, an extensive social calendar of dances, cards, sport on the wide screen television and social sporting events were held.[94]The club premises were used mid-week for people playing bridge. By 2003 this had been continuing ‘for many years’ and there were over 70 on the books.[95]A proposal to develop the facilities as a base for a professional catering service to serve both the club and the local community was unsuccessful.[96]In 2004 a Beecroft catering company (Sevardis) was given a contract to provide catering and to use the club facilities for commercial catering purposes. At the same time office space was also commercially leased out.[97]Approaches were being made to form a closer link with the Beecroft Sports Club in 2002.[98]In 2009-11 the club premises were hired on Friday nights to the local garden club.

The tennis section moved from a sporting activity underwritten by the patronage of a few local residents to one finding greater difficulty in maintaining viability from fees imposed on the users of the premises. As an activity, lawn tennis moved from a social pastime to highly successful competition and then to a greater mix of social and competitive activities. This all took place against a broader tension of whether the role of the club was to form part of the local community or to provide a venue for tennis irrespective of where the players might live. 

The club’s Roll of Honour

A club is grown and supported by the tremendous work of individual members. For the tennis club just a few individuals of particular long and faithful service need to be identified:

  • Eric Rothwell (1916-2005) was a member of the committee from 1947 to 1999 including as President between 1960-1970 and various other positions including court captain 1955-1979. He ceased playing in December 2000 after 53 continuous years with the Club.[99]
  • Tom Crotty retired after 16 years as Secretary in 1983.[100]
  • The doubles trophy shield, established in 1965, is named in honour of Spencer Rae who was a club member for over 25 years and President for 5 years. He died in 1963. Esme, his wife had been a member for even longer having joined in 1927.

Within the local area, the close proximity of the lawn tennis club at Beecroft meant that it is not surprising that a friendly rivalry existed between the two. The Alan Q Schubert Memorial Shield was established in 1961 as a friendship trophy, for an annual competition between the two clubs. It is named in memory of a former member of both.[101]By 2003 Cheltenhamhad won the trophy 19 times and Beecroft 15: with 8 years in which it was not played.[102]

[1]J Arlott (ed) The Oxford Companion to Sports and Games(Oxford University Press, London, 1975) p 604; D Birley Sport and the making of Britain(Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1993) p 312.

[2]J Arlott (ed) The Oxford Companion to Sports and Games(Oxford University Press, London, 1975) pp 605, 618

[3]J Lowerson Sport and the English Middle Class 1870-1914(Manchester University Press, 1993) p 96

[4]D Booth & C Tatz One-eyed: A view of Australian Sport(Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2000) pp61, 110

[5]A McAndrew Carlingford Connexions(Privately published, Epping, 2002) p 300

[6]A McAndrew An ABC of Epping(Privately published, Epping, 2001) p 299

[7]A McAndrew Carlingford Connexions(Privately published, Epping, 2002) p 300

[8]Cumberland Argus10 August 1895 page 7

[9]Cumberland Argus14 August 1897 page 5

[10]Cumberland Argus12 July 1902 page 10

[11]Cumberland Argus1 October 1898 page 12

[12]Cumberland Argus4 February 1899 page 10

[13]CumberlandArgus9 September 1899

[14]Phyllis Meadmore who grew up next to the Perdriau home in Copeland Road Eastsome years later married J J Hilder the artist.

[15]CumberlandArgus11 August 1900

[16]CumberlandArgus12 July 1902

[17]Comprising it Captain together with John Toohey, David Parslow, Brendon Rose and Rod Niccol

[18]Wiliam Harris, Edward Alcock, Frederick Brierley, William Birkenhead, Henry Chorley, Clarence Gorman, Harry Holcombe, John Lyon, Henry Little, Albert Machsman, William Nixon, Edward O’Sullivan, Willoghby Schrader, Ernest Trigg, Charles Tucker, John Wallace.

[19]G Kinross-Smith Privilege in tennis and lawn tennis: the Geelongand Royal South Yarraexamples but not forgetting the story of the farmer’s wrist” (1987) Sporting TraditionsVol 3, pp 189, 194.

[20]J Lowerson Sport and the English Middle Class 1870-1914(Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1993) pp 97, 100

[21]J Senyard “The tennis court: a country woman’s window to the modern world” (1996) 13 Sporting Traditions25 at 29; R Holt Sport and the British: A Modern History(Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1989) p 126; R Cashman Paradise of Sport(Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1995) pp 73-74, 86-8

[22]J Hill Sport, leisure and culture in twentieth century Britain(Palgrave, Basingtstoke, 2002) p 36

[23]Quoted in D Birley Sport and the making of Britain(Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1993) p 315

[24]Robert D Osborn (1881) quoted in H Walker “Lawn Tennis” in T Mason (ed) Sport in Britain: a Social History(Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1989) p 245.

[25]Letter to the Editor of James Eagar “Seven Hills: Who should Enlist” Cumberland Argus30 October 1915

[26]Annual Report29 July 1974

[27]Tennis Section Minutes31 August 1951

[28]Annual Report1952-53.

[29]Tennis Section Minutes2 May 1960

[30]Annual Report20 July 1964. The request to remove the brush box was then made to Hornsby Shire Council following the meeting on 6 September 1965. The Council refused 6 December 1965.

[31]Minutes of Committee, 4 March 1991

[32]Minutes of Committee, 8 January 1990

[33]Undated notes in ‘History folder’ of the Tennis Section.

[34]Minutes of the Committee, 1 July 1996

[35]Annual Report2001/2002

[36]Minutes of Annual General Meeting30 June 1952 

[37]Annual report20 July 1964

[38]Annual Report Tennis Section1974

[39]Michael Hugh, Speech given to the Cheltenham Club Anniversary Dinner on 19 February 1988

[40]Annual Report1992-1993

[41]Minutes of Committee, 7 June 2004

[42]Minutes of Committee, 2006

[43]Tennis Section Minutes31 August 1950

[44]Annual Report7 July 1958

[45]This being the name of the lawn tennis competition.

[46]Committee Meeting4 December 1961

[47]Tennis Section Minutes7 September 1964

[48]Annual Report28 July 1969

[49]Annual General Meeting26 July 1971

[50]Tennis Section Minutes7 February 1983

[51]Notice to Prospective Players 4 February 1983

[52]Undated notes in ‘History folder’ held by Tennis Section.

[53]Annual Report2003

[54]Minutes of Committee, 3 February 2004

[55]Minutes of the Committee, 7 June 2004. The member was Mr Gordon Winch.

[56]Annual Report1992-1993

[57]Annual Report1993-1994

[58]Paper on membership development dated 6 October 1995 and tabled at the Committee

[59]President’s Report, Annual General Meeting1981

[60]Tennis Section Minutes7 February 1983; Annual Report1994-1995

[61]Annual Report1985

[62]Annual Report1994-1995

[63]Annual Report2000/01

[64]Minutes of Committee, 1 March 2004

[65]Annual Report1990/91

[66]Annual Report1994-1995

[67]Annual Report28 July 1969

[68]Annual Report26 July 1976

[69]1987-1992 membership application book.

[70]Report to Committee meeting 5 July 1993

[71]Minutes of Committee, 1 September 2003

[72]Annual report2003

[73]Tennis Master list, 10 March 2004

[74]Tennis Section Annual Report1950/51

[75]Secretary’s Report6 March 1958

[76]Tennis Section Minutes1 December 1958

[77]Annual Report3 July 1961

[78]Undated notes in ‘History folder’ held by Tennis Section.

[79]Annual Report1994-1995

[80]Minutes of the Committee16 July 1984

[81]Annual Report, 2003

[82]Tennis Section Minutes1 September 1969

[83]Tennis Section Minutes7 March 1977

[84]Tennis Section Minutes1 May 1978

[85]Tennis Section MinutesAugust 1978

[86]Tennis Section Minutes4 August 1980

[87]Minutes of the Annual Meeting18 July 1983. WhiteCity, which was near Paddington, was at that time  the location for the Lawn Tennis Association headquarters.

[88]Minutes of Committee1 June 1992

[89]Minutes of the Committee2 May 1994

[90]CheltenhamTennis Club RulesMay 2001

[91]Tennis Section Minutes12 October 1970.

[92]Annual Report1988/89

[93]Minutes of the Annual General Meeting20 July 1993

[94]Minutes of the Committee, 1 March 2004, 7 June 2004

[95]Annual Report, 2003

[96]Report to the Committee30 September 2002.

[97]Minutes of the Committee, 7 June 2004

[98]Report to the Committee, 2 September 2002

[99]Annual Report2000/01

[100]Annual Report1982/83

[101]E W Rothwell, Tennis Section News. 10 February 1973

[102]Annual Report2003