A tough foreign challenge

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Rye Lawn Tennis Club’s 87th Annual Invitation Tournament

This year, there is a strong international flavour to the tournament’s 270 entrants, with ten talented young players from Harvard and Yale competing prior to their biennial Prentice Cup (men) and Seabright Cup (ladies) matches against Oxford and Cambridge on the grass courts of Wimbledon later in August. At Rye, they will find themselves up against tough opposition from a contingent from Slovenia, introduced to the tournament by former British ambassador in Ljubljana Andrew Page, which includes ex-Davis Cup player Gregor Krusic and former tennis professional Karin Lusnic, as well as facing New Zealand international Mark Hadley and some strong players from Italy and Germany.

After winning last years years titles Philippa Coates is back this year to try and defend them
Philippa Coates, 2013 ladies singles champion, pictured with Jonathan Jempson, is back to defend the three titles she won last year

Among the home-grown talent taking to the courts are defending champion Philippa Coates (last year’s winner of the ladies’ singles, doubles and mixed doubles), former ladies’ singles winners Anthea Stewart and Arabella Martin, Rye LTC coach and UK number 1 senior in her age group Frances Candy, rackets champions Willie Boone and Alex Titchener-Barrett, Tim Henman’s parents Tony and Jane and brother Richard, former tennis professional Robin Drysdale and recent All England LTC chief executive Chris Gorringe. Last year’s men’s singles and doubles winner, Kent county player Jonathan Tassell, has recently been forced to withdraw from the tournament due to a motorbike injury.

Last year’s men’s singles and doubles champion Jonathan Tassell in action.
Jonathan Tassell: forced to withdraw because of a motorbike injury

The Junior Tournament, which follows on from Wednesday August 6 to Friday August 8, also sees a strong field of youngsters from all corners of the UK as well as France. The club’s Closed Tournament and Invitation Mixed Doubles take place through the weekend of 9th and 10th August.

Rye LTC’s annual programme also includes tennis matches against other leading clubs in the UK, participation in the Sussex County and Wealden leagues and matches against teams from several tennis clubs in Continental Europe. The club is also active in several other sports, including squash rackets, table tennis, croquet and padel tennis. There is a growing junior tennis section and a regular programme of coaching for juniors throughout the year. The club has recently purchased the field adjoining the grass tennis courts as part of a long-term project to develop and further improve the facilities for members.

Rother Meads Tennis and Games Club was founded in 1922 and now includes Rye Lawn Tennis Club and Rye Squash Club. The Ritchie family were involved from an early date. Ken Ritchie (later the Third Baron Ritchie of Dundee) and his younger brother Colin Ritchie (later the Fourth Baron) were both fine tennis players. Colin and Ken both played in the All England Club’s Championship and were both prominent members of the committee of that club. They became the driving force behind the Rye LTC Tournament and they invited other members of the All England Club to it and, with their wives, ran the tournament for many years.

Situated in Military Road, beside the River Rother, Rye LTC is one of the leading tennis clubs in South-East England and enjoys a prominent place in UK amateur tennis. It has eight immaculate grass tennis courts (playable May to September) as well as a number of all-weather courts.