Tennis Everyone

The Globe and Phoenix Club, 2010

The Globe and Phoenix Club, 2010.  The exterior essentially unchanged fifty five years on.

Tennis for Everyone

The Globe and Phoenix Mine had three club tennis courts, one of which closed temporarily in 1945, reportedly because of a shortage of balls due to the war!

Tennis for Everyone

But once the war was over, the thirty eight member strong team was back.  Subscription was one pound, half yearly.

Although all the club officials were men, most of the players were women.    The manager’s wife of the Gaika Mine had ladies tennis on Tuesday afternoon, the G & P Mine on Thursday and the Roasting Plant on Friday.  Club tennis was on Wednesday and Saturday.  Then there was league tennis on Sunday.  They could play nearly every day because they’d bring their children and nanny with them.

The local butcher, Barney Kahn, was a keen but not very expert tennis player.  He sponsored a trophy for the local inter-club competition.  He liked to be asked to play in the G & P team. Ethne Prior, young pretty and agile, was often chosen to partner Barney in these matches.  Two elderly players were Mrs. Edney, who served underhand, and Mrs. Parkes, the railway manager’s wife, who had a deadly sliced backhand.  They would secure two young partners and then stage a battle royal, the younger players dashing around the court retrieving drop shots and sliced shots in the tram-lines.

Mr. George Davenport, the G &P Mine manager and later his sucessor, Mr. Watt, had a tennis court behind the high hedges at the bottom of  Phoenix House’s spacious grounds.  On invitation, my father, the mine doctor, would don his whites and pop across Silver Oaks Road to play there, followed by tea and scones under the shade of the summerhouse, where my mother, who could never hit a ball, would join them.

The Railways too had a court, behind the high brick wall that ran between Main Street and the station.  Foreman Fourie and his wife were avid players.  Mr. Fourie would have to interrupt a game and change out of his whites into his railway uniform to do his duty before the train rolled into the station.

There were so few teenagers in the early 40’s and they were all away at boarding school, but during the school holidays they came together at the railway court: Abe Menashe from Prince Edward, Nick Benetar from Chaplin, Dora Baldachin from the Bulawayo Convent, Marion Watt from Evelyn High and Derrick Candy.

Nick and Abe were good enough to be invited to play with the adults.

Thanks to Nigel Prior for sharing Ethne Prior’s  Snippets from the Past,  Abe Menashe for reminiscences on Skype and Bob Atkinson for the photo.

Ken Connelly:  “I remember a exhibition match in the 70’s under floodlights there, he was very young but I seem to remember Colin Dowdeswell being one of the players, he was quite famous.”


  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply May 15, 2012

    Remember Nic Benatar, he boarded at Coghlan when I was in Form 1… And Pat Davenport, George Davenport, later Rhodesia’s knighted Minister of Mines’s daughter, if I recall correctly, played tennis for Rhodesia… Sir George, my godfather…

    • Diana

      Reply Reply May 18, 2012

      Chris, you should get together with Abe Menashe who was great friends with Nic. Remember the Davenports…they had a lovely house and extensive garden up near QQHS (beginning of Rhodes Highway).

      • Chris Duckworth

        Reply Reply May 19, 2012

        Remember the Davenport’s home on the mine – Often accompanied my parents when they played tennis there on a Saturday afternoon – Remember staying at the home in the early ’60s when a Mashonaland side played against Midlands on the ground your father opened… And “googled” a guy… The Davenports also had a home in Salisbury’s Highlands… Went there for dinner on a few occasions… Recall too of being a guest of Sir George’s to the Rhodesia v France rugby match at the Police Ground in the late ’50s… And taught his and Lady Davenport’s granddaughter, Rosemary, in Standard 4 at Highlands… Great memories of a great era… an era, the history of which will never be relived and as such, never re-written…

        • Diana

          Reply Reply May 26, 2012

          Yes, great memories. How is the book coming along?

          I am at Oxford right now…this is my last research for the book. Then I just have to put it out there. Going well. Diana

    • Eileen Pye

      Reply Reply February 6, 2014

      Sir George Davenport was my grandmother’s cousin . My grandmother was born in Cheshire. Father James
      Davenport. I met a sister of George’s in England in 1951-2, her name was Mary Davies.

      I would like to hear from descendants of George if you know any.

      Eileen Pye, Brisbane, Australia.

      • Diana

        Reply Reply February 13, 2014

        Eileen, The blog site will soon become active again on publication of the first of a quartet of novels bases on my family’s experience in Que Que where I grew up. I have connected so many families through the blog and hope you’ll find your family too. Keep me posted.

      • Tina van der Walt

        Reply Reply September 4, 2016

        Hello, so I was bored and browsing the internet (you know how it goes where you type in family names and see what comes up!)
        So I happened to google “Sir George Davenport” and see what crops up, which is how I was directed to this site.

        Okay, so the thread is like two years old, but you said you would like to hear from a descendant of George, Eileen.

        I happen to be Sir George’s great grandaughter. His daughter, Elizabeth, otherwise known as “Betty,” is my grandmother. She actually celebrated her 91st birthday just the other day.

        Would love to connect with you.

        Tina, Chinhoyi (formerly Sinoia), Zimbabwe

        • Diana Polisensky

          Reply Reply September 29, 2016

          Tina, am just back from Africa and catching up. How wonderful connecting with you.

      • Rosemary Coyte (née Muir)

        Reply Reply July 15, 2017

        Hi there. I remember Chris Duckworth. He was my teacher at Highlands School in Std. 4. Loved playing cricket.
        My grandfather was Sir George Davenport of the Globe and Phoenix. His wife was Violet (Vi). My mother was Marie, Sir George’s eldest daughter. My father’s name was Bill Muir. Anyone remember them?

      • Rosemary Coyte ( née Muir)

        Reply Reply July 15, 2017

        Hi there. Sir George Davenport was my Grandfather. My mother was his eldest daughter, Marie. There was another daughter, Elizabeth, better known as Betty. My mother married Bill Muir (full name Aubrey William Turner). I don’t remember any family on my grandfather’s side, although I do vaguely remember the name Aunt Mary. I would be interested in hearing anything about my grandfather’s side of the family. Could you let me know more and if anyone is still living. Thank you so much.

        Rosemary Coyte, Wanganui, New Zealand

        • David Lindsay

          Reply Reply November 5, 2020

          Hello Rosemary

          My mother was Joan Havell and my sister and I are just finishing a family stories book. My mother told of her brother, Bob Havell, going to visit with your mother (his “girlfriend”)…. not sure the year probably 1932/1933ish …. in Que Que at the Mine, where my mother’s father worked. Bob would have been 12/13 then.

          • Diana Polisensky

            November 25, 2020

            David, Perhaps you’d like to send me a few stories dating back to those early days to post on this website. I’ll be starting it up weekly again soon.
            contact me at

      • Dave Wilton

        Reply Reply July 15, 2017

        Dear Eileen
        I am the grandson of Sir George – his daughter Elizabeth Rose Davenport is my mother – she is 92 this year

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply June 12, 2012

    Were you there for “Bumps Week”?…

    • Diana

      Reply Reply June 12, 2012

      No. What’s that? Tell us all about it.

  • Wendy

    Reply Reply February 16, 2013

    Mrs Parks , the Railway manager’s wife mentioned in the tennis story was my Grandmother, how wonderful to read this & see her name.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply February 17, 2013

      Wendy, Its amazing how the blog is connecting Que Que’s diaspora. It was great place to grow up

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