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Local Tennis History

Call for the history of tennis in Warrington and district…..

What do you know about the history of tennis locally? – perhaps more than first comes to mind! Are you able to help in a project to record the development and provision of tennis in the area? What’s happening and what’s involved?

In March 2012 the Executive Committee (EC) of WDLTA was approached by tennis enthusiast and independent historian, Andy Lusis, for assistance in compiling a series of local histories of tennis; in his own words:

“I am working on a history of British tennis which concentrates on the game below the top level and which takes a local perspective; The project concentrates on clubs and other venues, leagues and other inter-club competitions, tournaments and associations…….One of the things I am doing is trying to track down every tennis club that ever existed (I know it's impossible) so that at least their names can be recorded for posterity. This includes every type of club: private, works, church, parks and any other kind. I believe that at least 70 per cent of the clubs that have existed in this country were never affiliated to the LTA and so not recorded in their handbooks. Any information I can get from people who can remember such clubs would be useful. I would also like to include lists of past competitionwinners: club leagues and knock-out competitions, tournaments and county events. Depending on how easy they are to obtain, I could even include past league tables or at least the earliest available table for each league. Eventually, I hope to bring all the material collected together as a kind of encyclopaedia or huge compendium of information. The only viable way of doing this, as I see it, is as a website, where the content can be built up and modified over time.”

It’s a big ask yet an interesting one! Members of the EC, busy with WDLTA and Club tasks, have found it difficult to spare the time to do much on this but would like to support the project – the information collected would be useful if placed on our own website, too. However Chris Clarke, my Club colleague at Winstanley, and former Chairman of WDLTA, and I have recently managed to examine the WDLTA ‘archive’ – we have the Minutes of EC meetings since 1960 (nothing before then) - and extracted some relevant facts and developments such as :

- 1950 the Warrington and District Lawn Tennis League (WDLTL) wasestablished, with Gents’ and Ladies’ formats;

- 1960 a Mixed League was added; 1961 a Junior League was begun, only lasting 2yrs

- 1961 the start of the Presentation/Dinner Dances, hosted by Penketh (cost 1 guinea!)

- 1964 the League took over the administration of the ‘Stockton Heath Tournament

- 1967, as shown on the Handbook, the League was renamed with new Rules as an Association (WDLTA), to reflect its wider scope and to encourage tennis in general

- 1962 : membership of the League was ‘confined to Clubs within 5 miles of Warrington Market Gate’ (possibly interpreted loosely?); 1967 membership was ‘open to such Clubs within the Warrington area as the EC may approve’(still the case)

- the Minutes of 1960-90 identify 33 Clubs involved in WDLTL/A, 22 the most in any one season (1964&68); in 2013 we are 18 strong. The big change is the disappearance of works-based Clubs especially during the 1980s and 90s.

There’s more besides this short summary but more to find out too: what went on before 1950? Are there any records of Clubs which have folded? Does your Club have a written history or longstanding Members whose memories we can draw from?

Chris Clarke and I are meeting Andy Lusis shortly to share what we have and to explore how the project might be taken further, yet all contributions are welcome and especially the involvement of Clubs and Members closer to where this history all began : if you can help, do please get in touch (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Stan Meredith, 20th September 2013