100 Years of Albury Tennis
Albury Tennis Association held its 100th Easter Open Tennis tournament in April 2014. The celebratory dinner was held at the Commercial Club of Easter Saturday night, 18th April 2014. Dianne Balestrat, former World Number 4 and Federation Cup player along with well known former Davis Cup representatives Rex Hartwig and Allan Stone, the latter also a respected TV commentator, confirmed their attendance at the dinner. On 4th January, a tennis exhibition match – complete with all white attire, old wooden racquets and white tennis balls – was held at the Albury Sportsground, home of some of the earlier Easter tournaments.
The first staging of the Easter tournament was in 1910 with the first men’s singles winner being AW Foster. There was no women’s singles title contested until 1915. The tournament was not held during the war years of 1917-18 or 1943-44. The centenary of the event, with those four missing years, is this year 2014.
About 1940 a grass court complex was built in South Albury by Alan Kendall Snr. brother in law of Wimbledon Champion Jack Crawford. Prior to that, the Easter tournament was played on hard courts at several locations and on the oval at the Albury Sportsground. The courts were sold to the Albury and Border Lawn Tennis Association in the late 1940s. Alan Kendall Senior ran the complex until Wally Rutter took over as the curator about 1950. Alex Ortlipp was curator for a year until Don Hawkins had the reigns from 1960 and until 1980. Bill Simmonds had the job for about 18 months before Frank Tynan commenced in February 1982. Kingsley Neill was curator from September 1999 until September 2004. Shayne Ried, who has worked on the courts at Wimbledon has being custodian since September 2004.
The tournament has seen many well known players grace the courts at Albury over the years including: John Bromwich, Neale Fraser, Ashley Cooper, Owen Davidson, Bob Mark, Janet Young, Lesley Turner, Dianne Fromholz, Evonne Goolagong and the most well known of all, Margaret Smith-Court. Current ATP player Sam Groth is another who spent his formative years at Albury grass courts.
The special exhibition was held at the Museum, featuring never before seen trophies from tennis greats as well as the story of tennis in Albury through the voices and memorabilia of players past and present.
Take a moment to watch our 100 Years of Albury Tennis video and then browse through the gallery of almost 500 images of history!