NOSTALGIA: Sidmouth Tennis Club’s Wimbledon Connection

Two ladies who have a special connection with the club

A FEW days prior to Finals Day it was a particular pleasure for committee members of Sidmouth Tennis Club to meet two ladies who have a special connection with the club and so kindly donated trophies for junior competition, writes David Thorneley.

Sheila Adams first came to Sidmouth in 1956 when her parents retired to the town and took out family membership of the club. While at college, and later when working in Surrey and in Glamorgan, Sheila played both tennis and hockey during her holidays. When she later returned to work in East Devon she was able to devote more time to tennis, representing the Sidmouth Tennis Club in league matches and helping organise summer East Devon District Council tennis tournaments at the club. In the 1980s Sheila was a leading light in raising the necessary money to change the surface of three grass courts to all weather, thereby enabling tennis to be played throughout the year.

Sheila is still a member of the Croquet Section and feels honoured to be a member of the General Management Committee as a Club Trustee.

She has been very pleased to see the growth of the Tennis Section in recent years, particularly the regular coaching sessions now so popular with the ever growing numbers in the Junior Section.

Mrs Lu Bury’s connection with the club goes back even earlier as her parents moved from Lancashire to Sidmouth in 1940, when Lu was just thirteen years of age.

Having held a racquet for the first time at the age of two, she soon developed “an eye for the ball”, encouraged by the coaching of her father, she was already an accomplished player when the family took out membership at the Sidmouth Tennis Club, which at that time had no less than nine grass courts.

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During the war years many service personnel, some from overseas, were housed in the town, including a number of tennis players who were keen to make use of club facilities.

Lu, having left school at fourteen, was a member of the Land Army so time spent practising on the courts was limited.

In 1946 Lu, under her maiden name of Webster, played in the Ladies Singles at Wimbledon as did the likes of Doris Hart and Louise Brough. Lu, just 19, won her first round match but was defeated in the second round, still a great achievement and one that the club can look back on with great pride.

Shortly after Wimbledon, Lu gave up the sport for a few years only to resume later and continue to play at the club until “hanging up her racquet” in 1977.

David, her brother ten years her junior, was also a member of the club and developed into an equally accomplished player in partnership with Bobbie Wilson winning the Boy`s Doubles at the French Championships, much to the delight of the whole family.

Both Sheila and Lu have expressed much pleasure in giving their support to the club, and in particular the development of junior players under the expert eye of coach Sue Wiltshire. On Finals Day the winner of “The Mini Reds” will hold aloft The Adams Cup whereas the winner of the Girl` s Under 18 Final will be presented with The Webster Trophy.

In turn the members of Sidmouth Tennis Club have expressed their own appreciation to both ladies for such valuable support and look forward to seeing them on a regular basis henceforth.