A potted history of the Club
A club called Lady Bay LTC existed behind what was the Mona Road allotments – now residential properties – having 3 grass courts, which was founded in early 1900’s. But membership in 1913 was limited to 50, at which time Jesse Gray was the Secretary and a new pavilion was built. Demand for tennis increased after WW1, and for some reason, the separate formation of another club took place. This new club was formed in 1922 as GERTRUDE ROAD LTC with 5 hard courts. E Somerfield, a local builder, laid the courts and also a bowling green. The site was shared with Melton TC in 1925 to 1930, and Old West Bridgfordians in 1931-1943. As membership in 1937 was only 14, a ‘ground share’ arrangement ensured tennis would survive on the site.
The original tennis club, Lady Bay, closed in the mid 1960’s and the land, although offered to the WBBL Club for purchase – which was not accepted, sold off to developers for housing..
The GERTRUDE ROAD LTC changed name in 1926 to RUTLAND LTC, and again in 1936 to PIERREPONT LTC. At the same time the “Rutland Rooms” (originally built by the temperance society of Lady Bay), assumed British Legion status and obtained a licence to sell alcohol to ex servicemen, the club changed its name in 1946 to West Bridgford British Legion in keeping with the new status of the site. By this time 4 grass and 4 hard courts had been constructed to cater for a post war surge in sporting activities.
Three hard and 3 grass were converted into 5 hard courts in 1992 to accommodate all year round tennis, and to avoid the increasing cost of grass court maintenance and their limited availability due to weather.
Changed name in 2001 to Lady Bay LTC to identify with its location and to avoid confusion with the other similarly named club of West Bridgford.
When membership dropped to an all time low in 1937, and realising that the future of the club was insecure, Nell Husk formed a junior section. The club was the first in the County to take such steps. By the 1950’s the Club dominated the County scene. Jean Bee (nee Petchell) was runner up in the girls singles at Junior Wimbledon, and then played in the senior rounds of Wimbledon in 1953 and 1954. She was Scottish champion and played for England in 1954. At that time she was no.10 in the Country. In 1958 Carole Webb, who won her first County singles title at the age of 14, went on to win the junior Wimbledon girls singles and girls doubles titles. She was the first and only Notts player to have achieved this status. She was also runner up in the mixed. In 1959 the Club supplied 4 of the 6 Notts juniors who participated at junior Wimbledon – the aforementioned Carole, Jane and Bill Pacey, and Barry Lill.
In 1953, Nell Husk as organiser, alongside Harry Spedding who was referee, started an American open junior tournament – open to all juniors in the County and where each played against each other, instead of the usual knockout style. The tourney was played over 4 days. The first year attracted 31 entries. Not surprisingly the clubs juniors dominated the events – Alan Rowe, Dickie Dawson, Christine Bond, Gillian Hansen, Gillian and Rosemary Lind. An extract from the clubs minutes quoted “a few members of the club committee agreed to help, but, as usual in these things, they were of no use at all, and faded away when anything other than talking, needed doing”. Times don’t change much!
So, in 1955, the first junior committee was formed comprising Christine Bond, Gillian Hansen, David Bullman, Richard (Dickie) Dawson and Peter Kirkland. Numbers for the tournament increased dramatically, and soon peaked in 1958 at 200 entries (according to the West Bridgford and Clifton Standard) although this was disputed by the club officials of the time, the records suggesting 174. The tournament ran for 48 years until new and additional competitions in the County reduced entries to an unfeasible number.
During the 50’s the Clubs players held the County singles and doubles titles – not surprisingly Carole and Jean, but also Jean’s husband John, Bob Brookes (another youngster) and Frank Harrington.
The Club itself held both the LTA Ladies and Gents Division 1 doubles championships in 1954 and in 1956. The men won 6 titles and were runners up 5 times in the 11 years between 54-65. The ladies ‘only’ won 2 titles during this period. But between 1954 and 1981 however, they were either champions (4 times in total) or runners up on 24 occasions – and therefore never out of the top two in the County. Such was the status of the Club, Fred Perry came to the club to play an exhibition match, and was pictured posing with our Wimbledon hopefuls.
The ladies remained strong during the 70’s and 80’s, with a crop of youngsters still filtering into the 1st team. But a loss of top men to retirement without new blood resulted in a drop down the leagues. However the mixed team was able to win 4 titles in 7 years – the last one being 1984. The junior influx began to tail off, and the loss of senior players to other local clubs with better facilities, caused a decline in the Club’s fortunes.
Membership had fallen to an unsustainable level by 1998. New Chairman Margaret Cobb held a last ditch meeting to resurrect old values, and just over 60 years since Nell Husk did it from scratch, began a process to promote the future of the club by focussing on redeveloping the junior membership. The National LTA launched a new scheme to attract the very young into the sport. As one of only 7 clubs in the country, Lady Bay installed a mini ‘kidszone’ and employed Steve Amos, a County Development Officer, to run a new coaching programme for the under 8’s. The initiative attracted the attention of the BBC East Midlands cameras to see the opening by John Crowther, the Chief Executive of the National LTA. Shortly after Kevin Hart extended the work begun by Steve, and then Peter Godber, once a junior with the Club, was appointed to look after the performance players.
The influx of promising juniors revived the Club. With 4 junior teams newly formed at the turn of the millennium, numbers of league players strengthened in the senior leagues. 6 adult teams in 2000 became 11 in 2006. While the ladies yoyo’d between division 1 & 2 all the other teams, especially the men, began once again to climb the leagues – finishing top of the divisions in many. Membership now stands at over 200, equally split between adults and juniors.
A mens team, run by coach Godber, was entered into the national club league – winning through the regional leagues, and now competes at the highest level, and this year was a set short of competing with the top 16 clubs in England. This competition has seen fringe internationals and ex GB Davis Cup members gracing our courts.
2006 brings the first championship title for 22 years back to the Club. The 1st mixed team has been crowned as champions in the summer league, and was recently voted runner up in the Notts LTA ‘Team of the Year’ awards for winning 5 consecutive divisional titles prior to topping the league. The 1st men are now in div 2, the 1st ladies in div 1. But, most importantly, the Club offers competitive tennis to all standards of player all year round. The teams are well spread throughout the divisions.
It again boasts junior County champions, Emily Crowe & Rebecca Bradley both hold Under 14 titles in singles and doubles. Both represent the County teams at U18 level. Emily regularly competes with the top 32 for her age group, in tournaments around the Country. Rob Chambers, who recently returned from a years professional coaching in Barcelona, and Ben Dunbar, both 18, feature in LTA Challenger events.
The playing surfaces have recently been replaced and new floodlights installed to extend the junior coaching programme into the winter. With the prospect of a complete rebuild of the old British Legion club to include new changing rooms and social facilities, the future looks particularly rosy.
Investment in youth has once again been the Club’s saviour.