After the disappointing cancellation last year of Rye Lawn Tennis Club’s (LTC) 93rd Annual Invitation Tournament and the Rye Junior Tournament, the Club was very pleased to be able to welcome back competitors to both tournaments this year, run under LTA
The weather was not very kind, however, to the 275 players who participated in the
Invitation Tournament, which took place on the Club’s superb grass courts from
Friday, July 30 to Monday, August 2. On the opening day, the competitors not
only found themselves battling against each other but were also severely tested by
ferocious winds and squally showers, which left them scuttling for cover. With
sporadic downpours over the weekend as well, thanks must go to referees Chris
Gorringe and Jonathan Jempson for bringing the tournament to a successful close,
with all the finals completed by early Monday evening.
The standard of tennis was extremely high throughout. In the men’s singles final, top Queen’s Club player Matt Brooklyn took on seventeen-year-old Thomas Drayton,
who plans to move from the junior circuit to the senior tour in September. With some fierce rallying from both sides and great tactical play, Brooklyn’s experience won the
day – but not without some determined opposition from the talented teenager.
The ladies’ singles final saw Marine Beugre-Guyot, from France, a 2019 Rye ladies’ doubles winner, pitted against Croatian former ITF player Iva Saric, racquets manager at the Chelsea Harbour Club. Having come through a very tight semi-final against the 2017 and 2019 Rye ladies’ champion Victoria Brook, winning by just a few points in the tie-break, Beugre-Guyot again found herself in a tense tie-break against Saric, who just managed to pull ahead to take the title.
The ladies’ doubles final was also a closely contested match, as Victoria Brook and
fellow Surrey County player Natalie Haden-Scott took on Marine Beugre-Guyot and
fellow Chandos LTC member Eva Giannopoulou. After some hard-hitting exchanges,
Brook and Haden-Scott just got their noses in front in the tie-break to win the title
which had eluded them by the closest of margins in 2019.
In the men’s doubles final, Queen’s champions Matt Brooklyn and David Scales faced Worcester’s Charlie Crisp playing alongside 2013 and 2015 Rye men’s singles
champion Jonathan Tassell. After some fearsome ground strokes and quick-fire net play, the Queen’s pair gained the upper hand and took the match.
The mixed doubles saw Andrew Quirk and Alice Keddie pitted against Henry Moore and Muriel Wacker, all Camden Hill LTC players, with Moore and Wacker coming
through 7-5, 6-2.
The B groups and Handicap sections also witnessed an exceptionally high standard
of play, with some very competitive matches and wins for Rye LTC members Claire
Myatt in the ladies’ singles, Freddie Whitfield in the men’s singles and David Wallis
alongside Richard Pratt in the men’s doubles.
The Rye Junior Tournament, run by Catty Bingham from Wednesday, August 4 to
Friday, August 6, escaped the early August downpours as 218 young players
competed once again on the Club’s outstanding grass courts.
There was a strong local presence among the entries, as well as visitors from Andover, Newcastle, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, London and Surrey. On the first day, in the singles,
sixteen-year-old Alexander Johnson from Robertsbridge came through to win against
thirteen-year-old Londoner Luke Pakenham, grandson of local residents and Rye
LTC members Jonny and Pepe Leslie.
The next day, Alexander went on to take the boys’ doubles title playing alongside William Liggett, from Sedlescombe, in a tight match against Max Routledge, from Mayfield, and his partner Jack White, a member of Cross-in-Hand Tennis Club.
In the girls’ doubles, Evie Hoffman from Wittersham, partnering Lara Gibbs from Sandhurst, defeated Rye juniors Esme B. Rogerson and Freya Baxter, but not without some tough resistance from the younger pair.
In a blustery wind on the Friday, partnering Stonegate resident Millie Bruce-Smythe in the
mixed doubles, Alexander Johnson went on to score a winning hat trick after a tight match
against singles runner-up Luke Pakenham and girls’ doubles champion Evie
Hoffman, who were just pipped at the post 6-4.
The Rye LTC Closed Tournament, organised by Bob Thomson and David Goddard for members only, was held in wet and windy conditions on Saturday August 7.
Twenty-nine men and fourteen ladies took part and the day saw some competitive and entertaining tennis. With several rain interruptions, it was touch and go as to whether all the matches would be played. Against all the odds, however, and thanks to the hard work of groundsman Adam Stunt, the fantastic grass courts withstood the conditions and the tournament was completed at 8pm.
In the men’s singles, Mark Hadley – three times Rye Open Tournament singles
champion – powered his way to victory over Simon Crispin. Hadley then joined
forces with board member Freddie Menzies to take on previous Closed singles
winners Scott Brotherton and Richard Pratt in a hard-hitting final, which saw
Hadley once again the winner. Due to a disappointingly low number of entries, the
ladies’ singles was not contested. The ladies’ doubles saw last year’s winner,
Heather Mott, team up this year with Sarah Walsh to overcome last year’s runner-up,
Emma Merrifield, playing with Karen Spencer.
In the junior section, run by coach Suzy Larkin, fifteen junior members entered the
singles and six pairs contested the doubles. In the Singles Under 18, last year’s
winner Ollie Bearcroft came through to win again against Will Thompson, and in the
Under 11 group Rohan Andrews defeated Alice Hoffman in the final. In the doubles,
Harry Whitfield and Luc Duvoisin took the title against Will Thompson and Bea
The Farmer Tournament, an invitation mixed doubles named in memory of RLTC board member John Farmer, took place on Sunday, August 8 and was also dogged
by wet weather and strong winds. Organised by Amy Maynard, and with a bumper turn-out of 32 couples, rain sadly stopped play after just a few matches. The bar,
however, did brisk business and after an excellent lunch, provided by the Pink Kitchen, play resumed on the hard courts, with a return to the grass a short time
With all group matches completed, the semi-final pitted previous winners Scott
Brotherton and Vicki Lowe against Tonbridge pair Petra Bailey and Ged Denning.
Facing a fierce handicap against them, the former champions went down 4-6 and
Petra and Ged went on to face Freddie Whitfield, great nephew of the Club’s former
chairman Nick Moy, and Honor Gibbs who had come through the other semi-final
against Rye solicitor Rupert Parkes and his daughter Katie. In a tense final, the
Tonbridge team just got their noses ahead in the tie-break to take the trophy, which
was presented by Club chairman Jonathan Jempson.
The 18-35 Tournament takes place on Saturday, August 14 and the Two
Generation Tournament will be held on Saturday, August 28, with a final
tournament for members in September rounding off the Rye LTC grass court
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. Padel
tennis is extremely popular and the Club has applied for planning permission to build
a second Padel court. The Club is also active in 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. New members are welcome and the Club
has 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.
Image Credits: Rye LTC .