Applecross Tennis Club Early History - A Snapshot
The earliest known records of the Applecross Tennis Club are to be found in WA newspaper articles of the early 1900s. Later, in November 1938, an article appeared in the Sunday Times announcing the opening of three new grass tennis courts at the Club on the Strand in Applecross. In this article, reference was also made to the earlier history of the club, stating - from records available - that it had established its first tennis court, made of asphalt, on the Strand in 1900. The court was officially opened by Sir Walter Kingsmill (a South Australian born WA politician and one-time WAFL footballer) in the presence of a number of foundation club members. These members had laid down the court themselves at a cost of £25.
Foundation members of the club were reported to include the Hon. James Gardiner (former President of the WACA and later to be WA State Treasurer), Messrs Buzzacott, Avery, Roley Kelsey, Barclay, Swan and V.Harris.
Photo (left) Courtesy of the City of Melville Museums and Local History Service; A88. Gardiner Tennis Party
From as early as 1901, a number of newspaper records show that the Applecross Club fielded teams in the Western Australian Lawn Tennis Association (WALTA) Pennant competitions. In the WALTA official history, it is documented that in 1906, the Applecross men's team finished third in the second division behind Fremantle and Claremont.
Like tennis generally in Perth during the First World War, Applecross Tennis Club reportedly went through a lean period during 1913 - 15, but appears to have been rejuvenated by lady members in the latter part of the war.
In 1917, the asphalt court was resurfaced with crushed shells from the Swan River and a further shell court established at a cost of £50. It is suggested by other sources that the lines on the shell courts were marked using sticks.
During the 1920s and 30s, the club boasted a number of prominent local players as members, including Rice (Rhys) Gemmell (1921 Australian Champion) Sydney Eaton and Ben Southern. In 1938, three additional grass courts were laid on land provided by the Melville Roads Board. Records indicate that these five courts may have been orientated East-West with frontage onto the Strand, probably on land now occupied by housing. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the early grass courts were fed by a water pipe extended from housing up on the hill and that this pipe formed part of the courts' surrounding fence.
Compiled by Paul Moss
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