Ninety competitors took part in Saturday’s Coln Valley Annual Mixed Doubles Tennis Tournament, the 35th such event to be held since it was started by Edith Speke on her private court in Coln St Dennis back in 1982.

Originally planned as a day of great celebration, tragically Saturday was overshadowed by the sudden death of Club Secretary and past Chairman John Robson last week.  A tireless and passionate supporter of Hill & Valley Tennis Club and of Gloucestershire tennis in general, John was highly involved in the run-up to this year’s event and very excited about celebrating its history.  It was for these reasons everyone agreed that the most appropriate tribute to him would be to go ahead and aim to make it the very best and most enjoyable competition to date, to honour all that John achieved over the years.

Sponsored for the third year running by Savills, courts at thirteen beautiful properties in Aycote, Calmsden, Coln St Dennis, Coln Rogers, Fossebridge, Marsden, Rendcomb, Shipton Oliffe, Withington and Woodmancote provided the setting for a day of social – and at times spectacular – tennis, despite light drizzle on and off during the day.

Several of Saturday’ players had travelled some way for the event, but none further than Ajay Shah who flew into Heathrow that morning from Houston, Texas and drove straight to Chedworth Village Hall! Miraculously he fought off the jet lag, reaching the semi-finals of the plate competition with his tennis partner Kazue Drury. Many of the entrants were long-standing combatants, including Chris Wright of Coln Rogers, Caroline and Rob Baker of Chedworth, Mark Peer and Ann Taylor from Nailsworth and Adrian Potter and Jane Beaumont of Cirencester.  Late withdrawals were Andre Elshout and Richard Price who would have been playing for the 25th time!  To mark the fact that this was the 35th event, everyone who entered was given a specially engraved keyring torch for their tennis bags.

Although it was getting late and cool, a large crowd stayed on for the finals and were treated to some of the highest standard of tennis in the event’s history.  The much coveted Speke Challenge Cup was won by Steve Archer from Riverside Tennis Club, Salisbury and Jo Adams of Purton and Cirencester.  Runners-up Jason Stevens and Louise Crawford (winner in 2013) are also from Purton.

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The Speke Challenge Cup:
Winners Steve Archer and Jo Adams

Runners-up Jason Stevens and Louise Crawford

The victors of the Scott-Smith Silver Salver competition were Gavin Gibson from Nationwide House Tennis Club and Karen White from Royal Wootton Bassett who defeatedRicardo Du Bignonand Clare Morgan, both from David Lloyd,Swindon.

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The Scott-Smith Salver:
Winners Gavin Gibson and Karen White

Runners-up Clare Morgan and Ricardo Du Bignon

Tournament Coordinator Allison Stock said: “This week has been an emotional roller-coaster for everyone.  My husband Graham(Chairman) and I are so grateful for all the support we’ve had to enable us to make today such a great success.  They know who they are!  We are enormously grateful to Savills for their continued sponsorship of the event, to D&J Sports for their raffle prize of a spectacular tennis backpack and accessories and to everyone else who donated prizes.  Above all, I want to say a huge thank you to the court owners and all the volunteer helpers who worked so hard in the kitchen today or made puddings and cakes.”

This unique and charming tournament has a loyal following of players who are drawn back year after year by its focus on ‘country house’ tennis played in traditional whites in sporting spirit, a format which is now becoming popular with other clubs too.  The event raises money both for the Hill & Valley Lawn Tennis Club and for the local churches of Chedworth, Coln St Dennis and Coln Rogers.

Next year’s tournament will be held on Saturday 10 June 2017so now’s the time to put the date in your diaries!