Tennis tournament starts


Rye Lawn Tennis Club’s 90th Annual Invitation Tournament, from Friday August 4 until Monday August 7, 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. This year’s entry of some 240 participants includes skilled players from Italy, Germany and Slovenia as well as a strong field from all corners of the UK.

Jonathan Tassell, winner in 2015 also returns

New Zealand international Mark Hadley, last year’s men’s singles champion (for the third time), returns to defend his title – but could face some tough opposition from Kent county player Lewis Burton, one of the highest ranked players to compete at Rye, as well as 2015 winner Jonathan Tassell and local coach Matt Golledge, last year’s runner-up. Others tilting at the title include Slovenians Nikola Maljkovic and Bruno Nikolic, hot from an International Tennis Federation tournament in Paris, Colorado State University player David Mould, former tennis professional Robin Drysdale and his son Johnny, Wiltshire county player Robert Loosemore, Polo Farm coach Ben Roger and former world rackets champion Willie Boone.

Chris Gorringe, retired All England LTC chief executive and Rye Tournament referee, joins the men’s doubles line-up partnering Freddie Menzies, the son of 1930s tennis champion Kay Stammers and responsible for the superb maintenance of the club’s grass courts. While Rupert de Laszlo, half of last year’s winning men’s doubles pair, teams up with top Surrey county player Jamie Whiteford to make a fearsome combination.

Runner-up in 2016 Matt Golledge will be trying again

In the ladies’ draw, with last year’s winner Philippa Coates not in Rye to defend her title, strong competitors for the cup include Slovenian Karen Lusnic, Surrey county player Victoria Brook, Queen’s First Team member Annabel Watson, Rye LTC coach Frances Candy and Chris Gorringe’s daughters Kim Levine and Anna Craigen, as well as sports commentator John Inverdale’s daughter Josie.

Among the local teenagers taking up the challenge are Louis Duvoisin from Rye and Camber resident Martha Holt, the grand-daughter of Bimby Holt who as chairman of Rye LTC ran the tournament for many years. The club’s “oldest playing member”, Peter Woodroffe, recently celebrated his ninetieth birthday and will be taking part this year in his 63rd tournament. The action is ongoing throughout the weekend, with all the finals being contested on Monday afternoon, and members of the public are welcome to come and watch.

The Junior Tournament, which follows on from Wednesday to Friday, also sees a good number of local youngsters taking part as well as others coming to compete from further afield. The Club’s Closed Tournament and Invitation Mixed Doubles take place through the weekend of August 12-14.

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 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 recently competed in the LTA’s Road to Wimbledon National Fourteen and Under Tournament. The Club recently purchased 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.

Photos: Rye LTC

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