Alcester Tennis Club was originally formed around 1900 on what is now the Alcester Town Burial ground in Birmingham Road. The cemetery was opened in 1907, so some time before the club was moved to the current site between Moorfield Road and Rope Walk with lawn tennis courts. When the war came in 1939, the club closed as there was no petrol for the lawn mower to cut the grass. But it was used a little by Macrome workers who took over Eclipse works in Birmingham Road as their factory had been bombed out in Birmingham. In 1948, the club was reformed by Rose Bunting (the Aunt of John Bunting), and other committee members included Bert Grummet and his son Sid. In the 1970s, they attempted to raise funds to put in all weather courts. However, they failed to raise the funds and had opposition from some members who wanted to keep it as a grass only club. By about 1980, the membership had dwindled and the club closed. Former president, Ivan Laughlin, was a member in the 1970s and moved to Henley along with others because of the state of the club.
In the late 1980’s, Tony King and others formed a group to regenerate interest in tennis and the club reformed and played at the Grammar School while approaches were made to the Moorfield Trust for a lease and to find out about available grants and money. Stratford District Council, Alcester Town Council, the Moorfields Trust and the Church Street Property Trust all made grants. Various events were run to raise money, and members were offered life membership for £500 and 5 year membership for £250, in order to raise the final sum needed. Five people took life membership and a number the 5 year membership, so the club was able to build its hard courts. It meant that there was a core of signed up members who showed that the club was active and viable which attracted others to join this vibrant activity. The Club was officially opened on the 1st October 1989 by Miss Rose Bunting who was one of the life members. The next project was the floodlights and these were added and in use by November 1991. The club house was replaced some time after this.
There were a number of problems with the original courts caused by the close proximity of the courts to the trees next to Rope Walk and hence the courts had to be re-laid. This occurred about 15 years ago.
Coaching at Alcester took off over ten years ago when Penny Harris came to the club as the first full time coach. Penny quickly established both junior and senior coaching programmes. The junior coaching programme really took off with the addition of Alex Woodbridge and Gareth Price to the coaching team followed by Stuart Beech. This emphasis on coaching continues to bear fruit with a consistent crop very good young players coming through each year. Consequently, we have a healthy and vibrant club especially at junior level.
Penny went on to found inspire2coach – a thriving tennis coaching company based at the Warwick University Tennis Centre, providing high quality coaching on a national basis.
At the senior level, some ten years ago Alcester did have one of the best men’s teams in the County which was augmented by a few strong foreign players. Unfortunately, many of these players left to either go home or move away from the area. However, as a result of the strong youth and coaching policy we have again built up the men’s’ teams with a strong ‘A’ team squad of young players again playing in the top summer and winter leagues. Similarly, the ladies teams went through a period of strength followed by a lull but over the past few years attracted by the strong coaching programme, we again have two senior ladies teams.
Several years ago the club embarked on a project to build 4 new mini-tennis courts on the field next to the club and the newly built scout hut. These were opened 5 years ago with the help of grants especially from the Foundation for Sport, Stratford District Council and Alcester Town Council. In 2011, after a lot of fundraising the new artificial grass courts were laid and work was carried out on the mini tennis area to give the club a fifth dedicated coaching court and mini-tennis area together with new floodlighting paid for by an LTA grant. Hopefully the recent improvements to the playing surfaces will continue to attract senior as well junior members.
The club has come a long way over the past 30 years…