Tennis Everyone

The Globe and Phoenix Club, 2010
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.”