The Tennis Club was formed in 1900 and before the First World War consisted of a group of players who used the Hope St Recreation Ground courts, and later the hard courts in Ashton Gardens, St. Annes. In 1920, after the war, they combined with the North Drive Tennis Club, which had four grass courts among the St. Annes sand hills, to form the St. Annes-on-Sea Lawn Tennis Club at the present flourishing site in Avondale Rd off Clifton Drive North.
Later in 1921 a large sand hill on adjoining land was removed, and three new shale courts were constructed at a slightly higher level than the grass courts.
The annual Open Tournament at the Club was a popular feature of Lawn Tennis in the North West since its inception in 1932.
In 1934 the committee spent £1,000 on extending the pavilion, and in May 1935 Alderman W. Hope, the Mayor of Lytham St. Annes, officially opened three new grass courts and a stadium. He hoped that the Club would continue to progress, and become one of the leading clubs of the North. Exhibition matches were played attracting crowds of nearly 2,000.
These were to prove a regular attraction at the Club, which with its annual Open Tournaments was becoming the mini-Wimbledon of the North. Many famous players such as Fred Perry, ‘Bunny’ Austin, Dorothy Round, Kay Stammers, G.P. Hughes and Angela Mortimer appeared in exhibition matches over the years.
After the Second World War the Open Tournaments recommenced in 1948. Exhibition events also resumed, reviving the pre-war interest and attracting crowds to see Wimbledon stars and overseas players in action. In 1950 and in 1954 Harvard & Yale played Lancashire at the Club before about 1000 spectators and many friendships were formed. In May 1952 there was a women’s event – Great Britain v France ( an easy 16 – 0 victory for the British as a very wet weekend prevented the French from practising on the unfamiliar grass). Fred Perry, the Wimbledon Champion, was present and gave a talk and demonstration to the Juniors – an excellent opportunity for them. In spite of the rain, the event was nevertheless a great success. A week later for the Open Tournament there were perfect blue skies and hot sunshine, contributing to everyone’s enjoyment.
In 1961 Kramer’s ‘Circus’ of new professionals went on tour; Pancho Gonzalez, ‘Butch’ Buchholz, Lew Hoad and Mike Davis played at the club.
In 1964 Fred Perry opened the new tennis pavilion, built on the site of Court 1.
An exhibition match followed between Ken Rosewall and Rod Laver, the two leading professionals in the world at the time.
Quite a few Club members have achieved national recognition. The Club is proud of the fact that it has been represented at Wimbledon by at least one member for many years up to 1950. In fact L.A Godfree, the Club President, received the first service delivered , at the opening meeting of the New Wimbledon held on annually for many years. Kevin Livesey was another well-known favourite.
In the 60’s Squash was becoming popular, and accordingly two squash courts were built adjoining the Pavilion. Clive Francis, the British Professional Squash Champion in 1968, was appointed Squash Coach. The demand soon required a third court, which was built with a glass back wall for viewing. Several Open Squash Tournaments were held, and the public were able to watch world-class players such as World Champions Jonah Barrington and Geoff Hunt from Australia. Other competitors included Abu Taleb and always a group from Pakistan (Hidiat Jehan, Gogo Aludin and others) The standard of ladies’ squash was very high, and in the late 60’s the Lancashire Ladies 1st team was made up of 3 St Annes players – Pat Francis, Pam Bleasdale and Orelle Barlow(Gibson). Brian Rhodes, Tony Bleasdale and Clive Francis all played for County.
While having winning teams is important, it is vital for Club’s activities to interest and involve all its members. The St. Annes Club has always had a thriving social side. In the past activities ranged from the Annual Ball, to dine-ins, progressive music concerts and a float in the annual St. Annes Carnival, not to mention barbecues, and for several years fielding a team in Garstang’s ‘It’s a Knockout’ competition.
In 1980 Audrey Mann organised a twinning of the Blau-Weiss Tennis Club in Werne, Germany, with the St.Annes Club. In alternative years we have visited them, and they us. Many lasting friendships have been made and everyone enjoys the Werne hospitality, as we hope they do ours. This venture still takes place today and we hope it will continue to prosper. For more information visit their website http://luether.net/tc-blau-weiss-werne/main.html. For more information about the town our friends live in visit http://www.werne.de/index.php?id=startseite