A centenary of tennis

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2021 Men's final in action

Rye Lawn Tennis Club’s 94th Annual Invitation Tournament, from Friday, July 29 to Monday August 1, once again sees the start of ten days of competitive tennis on the club’s immaculate grass courts on the banks of the River Rother. Celebrating one hundred years since the Club was founded and the first tournament was held, this year’s entry of some 210 participants includes skilled players from the USA, Ukraine, France and Croatia as well as a strong field from all corners of the UK.

In the men’s singles line-up, last year’s winner Matt Brooklyn, a top Queen’s Club player, returns to defend his title against some tough opposition. This includes Ryan McElvenny of the Georgetown University team, previous winners and Roehampton LTA coaches Peter Griffiths and Stefan Lassen, Chris Gottlieb of St George’s Club and his son Oliver, and many other top players from the Queen’s Club, Hurlingham, All England Club, Camden Hill, Putney, Dulwich Old College, Shirley Park, Coolhurst and Rye.

In the men’s doubles, New Zealander Mark Hadley, the winner of many Rye titles, teams up with Lewis Burton, a previous singles finalist and doubles winner, while Ryan McElvenny partners Ukrainian Leo Stakhovsky, number 1 at Pennsylvania College. Leo is the brother of Sergiy Stakhovsky, who famously beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2013, and retired from tennis after the Australian Open to join the army when Russia invaded Ukraine.

Iva Saric on her way to winning the 2021 ladies singles

In the ladies’ singles draw, former ITF player Iva Saric, who last year narrowly defeated Marine Beugre-Guyot in the final, returns to Rye to face a further challenge from Marine. Also in the singles line-up are Anastasia and Milena Nahornaya, aged just twelve and ten, who are ranked UK Juniors, Milena the UK number 5. In the ladies’ doubles, as runner-up in this event as well as the singles, Marine this year partners Nicola Guzowska from Cumberland LTC in a strong draw, which includes Camden Hill first team pair Caroline Lynch and Alice Keddie.

In the mixed doubles, Muriel Walker and Henry Moore are back to defend their title and may well come up against young Milena Nahornaya playing alongside her father, Mikhail Nahorny.

Rye regulars playing again this year include Richard Henman and his son Theo, previous men’s singles winner David Chambers and his family, Max McAlister, Dusan Miljevic, Sam Dight, Steph Cornish and Leonie Watson.

The action is ongoing throughout the weekend, with the finals being contested on Monday afternoon, and members of the public are welcome to come and watch.

Juniors have their own coaching and competitions

Hot on the heels of the Invitation Tournament is the Two Generation Tournament, open to both members and non-members, on Tuesday, August 2. This is followed by the Rye Junior Tournament, from Wednesday to Friday, which also sees many local youngsters taking part as well as others coming to compete from further afield. The Club’s Closed Tournament and Invitation Mixed Doubles will be held through the weekend of  August 6-7. Then, on Tuesday, August 23, Tim Henman and All England LTC Head Coach Dan Bloxham will be hosting an Open Day at the Club as part of Rye LTC’s centenary celebrations.

Rye LTC’s annual programme also includes tennis matches against other leading clubs in the UK and participation in the Sussex County and Wealden leagues. The Club is active in several other sports, including padel, squash, table tennis and croquet. There is a rapidly growing junior tennis section and a regular programme of coaching for adults and juniors throughout the year. A number of junior players have competed this year in the Road to Wimbledon, an LTA initiative to encourage players of 14 and under. The Club also now owns the field adjoining the grass tennis courts as part of a long-term project to develop the facilities for members and to promote and improve community participation in tennis.

The new padel tennis court

Image Credits: Zoe Richmond-Watson , John Minter .

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