WOW! What a week we had last week! One of our members, Henry Searle, who began playing tennis at Tots Tennis when he was 2 years old, WON the Wimbledon Boys Singles title and we couldn’t be more proud!
The week started off with Henry knocking out top seed Juan Carlos Prado Angelo, winning 7-6, 6-3! And so, our crazy week began!
This win was covered in the Sun Newspaper on Monday, who called Henry, a ‘Wolverhampton Wonderkid’ benefiting from his ‘barmy army’ of supporters. This core group with others joining on different days, demonstrated the amount of pride and support WLTSC has for Henry and his achievements.
On Tuesday, our Head of Tennis, Max Thomson, was interviewed live on Radio WM from our beautiful patio, overlooking the tennis courts. Then on Wednesday, The Express & Star visited to celebrate Henry reaching the quarter finals, played on Thursday. Watching the quarter finals on iPlayer and listening to well-known tennis players and presenters, Andrew Castle, John Lloyd and Clare Balding, speaking so highly about one of our members made everyone feel incredibly proud. However, it wasn’t just Henry receiving the attention of the commentators, but his Barmy Army of supporters who featured a lot during the match and in an interview given by Henry in the following days!
In true British weather style, ‘rain stopped play’ for the semi-finals on Friday but this didn’t dampen our spirits at the club with lots of ‘good luck’ video messages been shared, more coverage in the Express & Star and a general excitement from members around the club, waiting to show their support up in the bar!
Finally, the wait was over, and Henry played his semi final on a very blustery Saturday. With the Barmy Army supporters at Wimbledon and the supporters filling the bar at the club, it was time to play! A tense set included a contentious point when Cooper Williams, his 4th seed opponent, hat blew off in the wind. Unlike the weather and his supporters, Henry was calm and controlled, winning the first set 7-6 and then the second, 6-3 becoming the first British boy to reach the final of Wimbledon since Jack Draper in 2018.
The atmosphere at the club was incredible and the cheers drowning out the Barmy Army’s cheers from the TV! The celebrations and good luck messages continued on social media and WhatsApp groups, including a recorded message via Twitter, from Wolverhampton Wanderers Manager Julen Lopetegui, which only added to excitement as we all waited for finals day!
Sunday 16th July 2023, the day club member Henry Searle, reached the Wimbledon Boys singles final. Some members were lucky to get tickets and had an early start to get there to add to the on-court support! The club ran its annual Wimbledon Whites tennis tournament in the morning finishing in time to join both BBC & ITV news (there to cover this momentous game) and other members gathered in the bar, to see Henry step out onto Court 1.
The Barmy Army sat in Court 1, had grown in numbers and were all wearing supportive T-shirts, and the home crowd in the First Serve bar, were all very vocal throughout the match, cheering all and EveryPoint WLTSC’s tennis academy name!) of the games. The roof was nearly ‘cheered’ off as Henry took the 1st set 6-4 and then again, serving for the match to WIN the Boys Singles title 6-4 in the second set! In that moment, Henry became the first British boy to win the Wimbledon Boys Singles since 1962 and WLTSC had its first home-grown Wimbledon champion!
While we celebrate the success of Henry who is based at Loughborough University National Tennis Academy, we also celebrate our club and all we offer members. It is not only 15 tennis courts (including 3 grass) that we have, but also 6 squash courts and 2 gym areas including spin bikes. Both tennis and squash & racketball offer junior programmes, school camps, adult programmes, internal and external tournaments, to provide every member with a sport or fitness regime to suit their requirement.
If you would like to become a member of our club and experience all we offer, why not contact us to come and have a look around.
A big part of the WLTSC community is the inclusivity we pride ourselves on and the many activities open to all abilities at the club.
Following a previous post of WLTSC with Wolves, the images featured a frequent junior WLTSC visitor that deserves to be showcased.
Emily joined our mini red tennis sessions and took part in wheelchair tennis with a wheelchair that was kindly donated by the LTA. She underwent a number of weeks at WLTSC, improving on her tennis journey.
In addition, Emily was chosen by Wolves to be the “disability matters” representative and recently a mascot for the Wolves at Leicester away game. Having been a Wolves season ticket holder since she was a toddler, the club wanted to celebrate how she has overcome the many difficulties and challenges that she has had. She met all the players, including her favourite Neves, and led the team out.
“WLTSC did so much for her and were all so kind to her.”-Emily’s mom, Mel.
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.”
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.