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Stamford club marks 100-year milestone

Stamford’s Rock Tennis Club marked their centenary celebrations in style on Saturday.

The club invited members, past and present, to the Recreation Ground where they were encouraged to attend in period costume.

Wooden racquets, many still in their presses, were resurrected from the back of the cupboard and white balls were bought for authenticity.

Rock Tennis Club's centenary celebrations.(13343785)
Rock Tennis Club's centenary celebrations.(13343785)

Special guests for the afternoon were the Mayor of Stamford, Coun Breda-Rae Griffin, and consort Coun Mike Exton together with John Copsey, chairman of the Lincolnshire LTA, and his wife Jean. Elizabeth Banks, president of the club, cut the celebration cake.

Chairman Andrew Harwood welcomed all the guests and recounted some of the history of the club.

He invited guests to reminisce at the specially prepared photo-board, commended the many members with long service and explained how the social side of membership meant so much to all.

John Copsey, who congratulated the club on achieving 100 years of play, commented: “They may be one of the smallest clubs, but they have put themselves on the map with this event.”

The Mayor expressed her pleasure in being able to attend and also wished the club well for the future.

Rock Tennis Club's centenary celebrations.(13343800)
Rock Tennis Club's centenary celebrations.(13343800)

Rock Tennis Club was formed in 1919 after a number of keen players, including Albert Cliff and Percy Banks, signalled their intentions to start up.

Albert lived in a large house built at the junction of Empingham Road and Casterton Road with extensive gardens to the rear on land rising to the old windmill site up the hill.

This house was called Rock Lodge and Albert offered land behind it to create two grass courts.

The club thrived at the courts in Windmill Way, playing throughout the war years, with the exception of 1943 when a herd of cows from a nearby field completely wrecked the courts. They required a full year to recover and play was suspended for the season.

Conditions did improve the following year, though straw and mangolds were found to be littering the entrance to the courts.

An old club photo from the 1990s, taken at Windmill Way courts. (13343913)
An old club photo from the 1990s, taken at Windmill Way courts. (13343913)

Club minute books exist from as far back as 1933 when meetings were held in the Albert Hall (where Tesco’s now stands) and then later at the George Hotel

Throughout this period many long-serving characters, often fine tennis players, were members of the Club.

Alec Banks and Trevor Kirk gave long service and are fondly remembered as is Ethel Ireson with the tradition continuing at the club as members are encouraged to play as long as they are able.

The old courts at Windmill Way were lost to development in 1999 and the club now hires courts from the Stamford Council at the Recreation Ground.

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