Friday, November 28, 2008


Today I am feeling rather nostalgic. Last night I attended the final meeting of a tennis club that I was a member of for half my life. At school tennis was one of the sports we girls played in the summer. I loved it but as the *fat kid* I was not really taken seriously even though I was better than average but not good enough to make the teams.

At home I would spend hours hitting a ball against a wall, the local Youth Club were allowed to use the grass tennis court belonging to the vicarage but I could rarely get anyone to come and play with me!

Once I left school and went to train as a nurse I was excited to learn they had tennis courts. I persuaded one of the other girls to come with me to join the club. The trouble was this only served to make me realise I was not really up their standard. Instead of persevering, I lost all confidence and packed away my racquet.

Fast forward 10 years and two children and I was running a home-based pre-school. One day a lady came to enrol her daughter, who happened to be the same age as Beccy and they became best friends (that's another story). To cut a long story short I became very friendly with the mother.
One day tennis cropped up during a conversation and my friend mentioned that she wanted to join a small local tennis club. I had passed the courts many times as it was only a five min walk from both our homes. I clearly remember looking longingly at the people playing there as I passed by, but I would never have plucked up the courage to ask about joining.

We agreed to apply to join together and we had to having a playing in test and were accepted (flukily playing against the lady captain and winning the set might have had something to do with it). My friend was a much better player than me but somehow I got by and gradually with a lot of playing I improved. One thing I was never short on was determination!

It was around this time (Sept 1973) that I became a single parent and that tennis club was my saviour. I had very little money but thank goodness I somehow managed to pay my subs. It's surprising how good you feel when you hit a tennis ball really hard and when you beat your opponent (at the time it was like hitting my ex he never liked me playing tennis). The girls could come with me and everyone was very friendly and supportive. We took turns to make Saturday afternoon teas and I gradually got a new circle of friends.

I joined in all the club tournaments and in 1975 my friend and I were runners up in the ladies doubles. The following season (76) one of my biggest thrills was winning the mixed doubles trophy with one of the better male players. I really only had to defend my little area of the court and he did the rest..but it was still a win!
Then in 1977, my partner and I won the ladies doubles (my partner was an actress who, at the time, was in a long running radio programme called the Archers) and I was, also, a runner up in the mixed doubles and ladies singles. It was not until 1978 that I managed to win the Ladies single Championships. That was a very sweet victory.

By now I wanted to play all the year round (our courts were shale and there was no winter play) so I joined another club and this meant I could play even more competitively. The girls wanted to learn to play so I went on a coaching course and qualified as a Part 1 Elementary Teacher of Tennis, so that I could help them. This actually improved my own game and by now I was playing in the local league teams.

I think it's also important to give back to something that has given you a lot of pleasure and for many years I served on the committees of both tennis clubs. We hosted National tournaments and I did the catering which was a good fun raiser for the club. I was lucky to have the girls helping me by then. They became good players themselves and, although I know I have written about this before, but I have to say I was very proud to win the Bristol Parks Tournament with both my daughters back in 85 with Sam and 86 with Beccy).

If you have read this far I think you will have gathered that tennis has been a very important part of my life and it was a big disappointment to me when I began to get knee problems, the last club championship were played in 2000 and I won the ladies singles and the ladies doubles and it was around this time that the club numbers began to dwindle and by about 2003 we realised the club was no longer sustainable. The remaining few members joined other local clubs but I decided to call it a day.

I never once imagined that I would not be playing tennis once I retired from work. In fact this is what I was looking forward to most of all. I used to joke that I would have my ashes scattered on the tennis court. I think that if the club had not folded then I probably would have stayed playing, socially, despite the joint problems. Beccy still enjoys her tennis, and luckily both my two youngest grand children also enjoy playing and I get great pleasure from following their progress. Sam started playing again last year but I'm not sure if she had kept it up.

So to get back to the point, last night was the end of an era, and over 30 years of tennis memories for me.
I probably should add that I met Embee at this tennis club, he'll get upset if he doesn't get a mention!

The picture at the top is my collection of trophies, normally they live in a cardboard box in the cellar, but it was great fun giving them an airing and re-living a few memorable moments.

2007: Final postcard from San Francisco

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At 29/11/08 15:26, Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Wow! you certainly got into it in a big way. I liked tennis too and for a few years would play almost every day in the summer. I was never in your league but okay for a recreational player with no training. But my body started to have problems earlier than most people (back, knees etc), so I had to give it up in my mid-forties. I still watch much of Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Canadian Open every year.

At 29/11/08 17:16, Blogger Debbie said...

Holy cow! I saw the photo but didn't really look at it until you said what it was at the end. That's a helluva lot of trophies!!!

I think it's so wonderful that you have a passion in your life. Being a mom is, of course, my passion - I just think we all need something else, too. And YOU found it for yourself. This reinforces my desire to find one for myself.

Very inspiring post. :)

At 29/11/08 17:35, Blogger Sam said...

aw, mum. This is a long, sad post. I so wish you would play tennis again. So wish...

At 29/11/08 19:30, Blogger Beckie said...

That was quite a story - thanks for sharing it with us.
I'm happy that you had something in your life that gave you such enjoyment. It's an understatement to say that I wish you could continue to play.

At 29/11/08 23:00, Blogger WT said...

That's so sad that the club folded, always a shame when that happens. You should get a Wii, then you could keep playing!

At 29/11/08 23:24, Blogger ChrisB said...

AC I love watching Wimbledon but have actually been on holiday those weeks for the last couple of years.

Debbie I think my family might have considered I was a bit too passionate about it.

Sam It upset me quite a lot actually.

Beckie they say never say never and I still have my racquets.

WT Beccy has a Wii so I get to play when I visit it's good fun but even Ben beats me-it's hilarious I have them in hysterics.

At 30/11/08 07:11, Blogger Pamela said...

aaaaaaaaaaaaawwww... such sweet sorrow.

At 30/11/08 09:53, Blogger Beccy said...

You didn't mention that I actually got you on a tennis court again, although unfortunately you ended up injured!

At 30/11/08 17:52, Anonymous Karmyn R said...

Wow - I knew you liked tennis and now I know why. Great post, Chris. I enjoyed hearing about your passion. Sorry the club had to shut down.

At 30/11/08 21:16, Blogger MarmiteToasty said...

What a great post....... you have inspired me to hunt out my box of all my football trophys, even though it will be very hard to look at them.....


At 1/12/08 04:39, Blogger infredible said...

you see - I knew it made you upset - I am not sure everyone else cottoned onto that.

At 1/12/08 04:40, Blogger infredible said...

oops - guess I wasn't logged in as me, but as someone else we know.


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