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Staffordshire Championships A Big Success

Staffordshire Championships A Big Success

The cream of the county’s tennis talent descended on Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis & Squash Club for the annual Staffordshire Championships, which came to an exciting conclusion at the weekend.

Over 100 competitors took part in 26 different events during the week-long event, which came to an end with Saturday’s Finals Day and a host of great tennis in front of a sizeable crowd.

“It went really well and we had a successful week with lots of really good matches,” said tournament organiser, and WLTSC coach, Max Thomson, who worked with experienced tournament referee Ron Allan.

“There were also some good results from people from Wolverhampton but the main thing is that everyone enjoyed themselves and enjoyed their tennis.

“Ron did a great job and it was nice for the club to host the event and also see so many parents and families come and support the younger players.”

On court, it was a good Finals Day for Tom Welsh, also a WLTSC coach, who won both the Men’s Singles – defeating Henry Parry – and then linking up with Parry to claim the Men’s Doubles against Jamie Crothers and Allan Pengelly.

And that makes it 15 singles games unbeaten for Welsh, who had previously won the Club Championships at WLTSC and also events at Sutton Coldfield and Tipton.

“This is the fourth year I have managed to win the doubles, this time with Harry but previously with Jake Lawley, but it’s my first singles,” he said.

“I’m playing well at the moment, and it was a good week.

“Entries dropped a bit last year, so it was great to see so many people back and some really competitive tennis particularly on Finals Day.”

The Open Women’s Singles event was won by Alice Jayne Dudley, with Amy Lees runner-up, and the Doubles by Dudley and Emily Southall.

Southall teamed up with Gregg Spooner to win the Open Mixed Doubles.

Another WLTSC member who enjoyed an excellent week was Sol Shahar, who claimed the Under-16s title by beating Max Walker, the Under-18s doubles by teaming up with Henry Searle to defeat Ross Fletcher and Rohan Thawait, and reached the semi-finals of the Under-18 singles.

“I’m happy with how I played this week and delighted to win a couple of the tournaments and get to a semi-final in the other,” said Shahar.

“There have been a few new faces at the tournament and it is always good to play and test yourselves against different people.”

Other notable winners among the juniors were Max Walker, who won Under-14s boys singles and doubles, and Anna Coghlan, who won Under-14s girls singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

At the other end of the age spectrum, WLTSC’s Operations Manager Marc Hughes, who had only won one county title since Under-18 level, won the Over-45s Men’s event by defeating club colleague Robin Chipperfield in the final.

Marc said:  “It was the Hereford and Worcestershire Under-18s which I won, and then the Staffordshire Veterans a few years later in 2017, so it’s always nice to win another county title!

“On a more important note we have all been delighted to have hosted another fantastic tournament this week, from the organisation led by Max and Ron, to our members coming down in large numbers to support and enjoy the tennis.

“As a club we really enjoy welcoming the top talent from across Staffordshire, and look forward to hosting the tournament again in the future.”

For Allan, who referees at numerous tournaments across Staffordshire, it was also an enjoyable week.

“The tournament has gone very well and the behaviour and the tennis has been good,” he said.

“It has been competitive but played in the right spirit as it is always important that everyone is able to enjoy fair play.

“I only keep doing these tournaments because I really enjoy it and this has been no exception.

“The club and the members here have been brilliant in allowing us to host the tournament and use the courts  and I have enjoyed working with Max who has done a fantastic job.”

Clive Paddison, Staffordshire LTA’s treasurer, was among the spectators on Finals Day and was very impressed with what he saw.

“I always love to come and watch these events, and it never ceases to amaze me how brilliant the standard is,” he said.

“I was watching the Men’s Doubles Final, which was very impressive, as was the Under-14s Boys Doubles on the next court.

“I like the way they are all very competitive but also friends with each other and appreciate each other.

“It is a good set-up at the club to host the event, and I know it struggled a bit last year but has now been really invigorated.

“We are really pleased with how it has gone this year and are glad that the club are happy as well.

“It is a very important week for us – the championships of the county – and it is important that we have a good quality event which we have enjoyed this year.”



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A Night Of Nostalgia

A Night Of Nostalgia

A memorable and nostalgic night was had by all as Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis & Squash Club marked the 80thanniversary of the return to the current site with a celebratory dinner on Saturday night.

The club were delighted to welcome three special guests to the club to mark the anniversary celebration, five-times Grand Slam doubles champion Frew McMillan, another former top player in Ted Beards, and former UK squash number one Anna Bullock (nee Craven Smith).

Club President Ron Stevenson was Master of Ceremonies for the night, Rod Willetts delivered a presentation about his ongoing work to compile a history of the club (Click here for more details), and Frew himself spoke about his illustrious career to the 80 assembled guests.

“Frew delivered some tremendous stories about his tennis partners and rivals, and revealed a connection to Wolverhampton which was most surprising,” said Rod.

“He was actually awarded a Doctrine of the City (by the University of Wolverhampton) ten years ago.

“He also did a Question & Answer session for guests which was extremely interesting, including the question of why he was one of the first two-handed players.

“’Because I used my mother’s full-size racket which was a bit heavy for a five-year-old’ was the response.

“Overall the evening was a great success.”

Frew, who won the top tournament at WLTSC in 1962. 1963 and 1970, was delighted to catch up again with former friendly foe Ted, who also made it to Wimbledon in his playing days.

Frew, who attended the evening with wife Sally, has since contacted Ron to pass on his appreciation.

“We greatly enjoyed ourselves,” he said.

“It was a treat for me to revisit the scene of my playing days and  I could not quite comprehend the huge expansion of the Club. Most impressive!

“We wish you and your Club the very best of good fortune in your attempts to further enrich Newbridge.”

At the end of the night Frew and Sally were presented with gifts to mark the occasion by WLTSC chairman John Hollingsworth.

*Photos from the evening, taken by an Express & Star photographer, will appear in a future edition of the Wolverhampton Magazine.

Time To Mark History At Special Anniversary

Time To Mark History At Special Anniversary

A popular sports club in Wolverhampton is welcoming Grand Slam tennis champion Frew McMillan to help mark a special 80th anniversary taking place this weekend.

The Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis & Squash Club is holding an anniversary dinner, with special guests including the five-times doubles Grand Slam champion, who played – and won – several tournaments at the club during its history.

The club is marking 80 years on its present site, having started out in 1885 on the premises, moved to Albert Road in 1913, before purchasing the ‘Neville Lodge’ building and returning in 1938.

Saturday night’s event is part of an overall celebration of the 80th anniversary, including long-serving club member Rod Willetts producing a history of WLTSC from its inception to the present day.

“There is a gang of us who play racketball on a Monday and Friday night and have a pint in the bar afterwards,” says Rod, who has been a member at WLTSC for 42 years.

“One of the guys Roger Malpas, who has since been helping me with the project, was asking if anyone had ever done a history of the club and that sparked my interest.

“We found some boxes of minutes, including one which had been brought in by the family of the former secretary Mike Tomlinson, and the information blew my mind.

“There were minutes books all the way from the year 1905 to the present day – all in beautifully kept books and beautifully written in italics.

“Roger and myself have been going through those books and I have also been up to Wolverhampton Archives, where I have found some fantastic photographs.

“It is very time consuming but has been great fun and amazing to see how the club has progressed through the years.

“The idea now is to turn the work and the research into some form of publication to mark this anniversary and the club’s history to date.”

Rod has discovered there were three main reasons why the club moved back to Newbridge Crescent from the 12-court site on Albert Road eight decades ago.

The lack of parking at their previous home, the need for a venue for more ‘winter’ sports, and a more substantial property, with Neville Lodge being purchased for £2,000.

And so it was that the new and current home not only housed tennis courts at the start, but also two squash courts and separate rooms for billiards, table tennis and cards.

WLTSC also hosted a top class tennis tournament over the years which included ranking points towards events such as Wimbledon, and attracted competitors from as far afield as South Africa and Australia.

It was that event which McMillan won on three separate occasions, in 1962, 1963 and 1970, and why he is delighted to be returning this weekend, along with other guests including former British number one squash player Anna Bullock (nee Craven Smith) and another top tennis player in Ted Beards.

“We are delighted that Frew and all of our guests will be joining us and are looking forward to a nostalgic night,” added Rod.