Avenue Club hosts world-class seniors’ International Tennis Federation tournament
Two hundred men and women from around the world have competed in a tennis veterans’ competition in Havant.
Players from as far afield as New Zealand braved the wet weather at the seniors’ International Tennis Federation tournament held at The Avenue Lawn Tennis and Squash Club.
Meanwhile, an online video of Sussex player Colin Piper in a Boris Becker style dive went viral, with 50,000 views after it was retweeted by Dustin Brown, a tennis professional known for his acrobatic play at Wimbledon.
Groundsman battled heavy rain to make the grass courts playable during a wet week.
They used towels to soak up water and leaf blowers to disperse puddles.
However, no playing days were lost as referee Kris Dymond rescheduled matches on the club’s all-weather courts.
The finals, however, did take place on the grass.
Despite the international flavour of the event, local players shone.
Avenue member Richard Steeds won the men’s singles over-55 event.
Hampshire stalwarts Paul England and Martin Wilkinson walked off with the men’s over-45
doubles title following a thrilling match watched by a packed balcony against Avenue veterans Steeds and Christophe Hardy.
Hampshire county captain and Winchester Tennis Club coach Sue Espley won the ladies’ over-50 singles.
Georgina Bartholomew from Southampton won the ladies’ over-40 singles in her first season competing at ITF level.
And David Gaterell, from Gosport, who is also the coach at Steep LTC, won the men’s over-40 singles.
Left-handed New Zealander Gilles de Gouy, who coaches one of the world’s top 40 doubles players, won the men’s singles over-45 event.
And Robert Hanbury-Brown, from Australia, won the biggest draw of the week in the men’s over 60 singles, which had 40 entrants.
The grade 4 ITF tournament, which was in its fifth year at The Avenue, has become a popular destination for senior tennis players.
Event referee, Dymond, said: ‘The entries are growing each year and seniors tennis is a great circuit for club players and beyond to keep competing through the decades. It’s tough for beginners, but regular club players would enjoy the challenge.’
About 15 per cent of entries came from overseas, with returning visitors from Australia, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, USA and Barbados.
The Avenue has 10 quality grass courts, four artificial clay courts and three artificial grass Courts.
Head coach Ashley Neaves, who was last year’s LTA coach of the year, runs a year-round programme.
The next event to be held at the club is the summer county cup between July 22-26, when six county ladies’ teams will compete to win their division.
Visitors are welcome to come and watch.