ELTC
Ealing Lawn Tennis Club original clubhouse

Club History

Ealing Lawn Tennis Club's history is almost the history of lawn tennis in this country. Founded in 1882 as "Ealing Lawn Tennis & Archery Club" and originally sited in St. Leonards Road, West Ealing, the ground was shared between the archery and tennis members. On one memorable occasion, in a not very sporting vein, the latter, annoyed by the archers' disproportionate allocation of space, knocked down all the targets and drove those poor unfortunates out for good. And so, in 1903 Archery disappeared from the title, the former members having to loose their arrows elsewhere. The first Club Gentlemen's Singles and Ladies Singles Championship was held in 1884, whilst records for the Gentlemen's Singles Championship only go back to 1914. The club moved to its present site, off Creffield Road W5, in 1906. See historic photo gallery here...

A Galaxy of Wimbledon Singles Champions

For the first 30 years of its existence, Ealing was one of the country's leading clubs. It produced many fine players, particularly amongst the ladies, none of them more so than Mrs. Hillyard (the former Blanche Bingley), Mrs. A. Sterry (Charlotte Cooper) and the great Dorothea Lambert Chambers (née Dorothea Douglass). Between them this doughty trio won no fewer than 18 Wimbledon singles titles and were runners-up a further 17 times.

Blanche Bingley appeared in the first Wimbledon ladies championship in 1884 (there were 13 competitors) and took the title two years later when she beat the holder Maud Watson. Blanche Bingley won six times in all, the last in 1900, and was runner-up seven times. Five of these were lost to the amazing Lottie Dod, probably the leading female athlete of the day. Her final Wimbledon appearance was in 1912, an astonishing 29 years after her first.
See Championship winners here...

Dorothea Lambert Chambers

Dorothea Lambert Chambers, born in Ealing, was the most famous of the Ealing LTC female trio. She won her first Wimbledon singles title in 1903 (capturing also the ladies and mixed doubles titles, although these events played elsewhere did not enjoy the same status as they do today) and her last in 1914. In all she won seven times and appeared in another four finals. When the Meeting resumed after the World War 1 in 1919, Dorothea Lambert Chambers awaited the All-Comers winner in the Challenge Round - the incomparable Suzanne Lenglen. Their titanic battle, still remembered as one of the greatest matches ever seen, resulted in Lenglen taking the title on her first attempt by 10-8, 4-6, 9-7 after saving two match points. They met again the following year when Suzanne was a comfortable winner. Although she continued to compete for a further five years, 1920 was Mrs. Chambers' last appearance in a Wimbledon final when she also lost the ladies doubles (playing with Mrs. Larcombe) to Suzanne and the arch-exponent of the game, Elizabeth Ryan.

Dorothea Lambert Chambers Blue Plaque Unveiling, 27 July 2005

Dorothea was honoured with an English Heritage Blue Plaque on her home in Ealing on 27 July 2005. The club hosted the unveiling ceremony, which was attended by over 50 people. The club hosted a lunchtime reception after the unveiling. See the event press release and our Hon President's speech transcript.

Lest the men feel overlooked, there were many excellent players in Ealing's early years; C.H. and J. Martin, a leading doubles pair, the excellent coach Henry Lawrence who taught many of the ladies to play, and A.R. and E.S. Littlejohn, also accomplished cricketers.

In 1906 the Club moved to its present Creffield Road site, taking the clubhouse with it. During World War 1 club membership, understandably dwindled down to 62 members. A new clubhouse was built in 1926, and extended in 1929. The spacious ground with its twenty courts attracted new members in increasing numbers, and the ladies' team, ever invincible, continually won the Middlesex Cup.

The 'Auntie' Years - 1924 to 1976

For 52 years , Mrs Keen - known affectionately as 'Auntie' by hundreds of members and visitors to the club - worked at the club. Many venerable members and ex-members claim that without Auntie the club would not have survived through World War 2.She arrived at the club in 1924, along with her husband, who became club groundsman. He had previously been a groundsman at Queens Club. Few will know this, but Auntie was an athlete in her youth. While serving in what became the Women's Royal Air Force, she competed in 100 yard sprints. Auntie supported her husband at the club, providing a refreshment service and later running the bar, as well. During her husband's absence during WW2, she took over her husband's role - even mowing the courts! Her husband died in the mid 1950s. Auntie's eccentric likes, dislikes and habits endeared her to many people. By 1976, it was clear the she could no longer handle all her responsibilities. The commitee tried to persuade her to reduce her responsibilities, but she would have none of it. The club did the kindest thing and offered her retirement with a pension, which she reluctantly accepted. Auntie died in her 80's in December 1984. (Nobody ever dared to ask her age!!) Auntie devoted most of her life to the club. No-one has made a bigger contribution to the club than Auntie - and no-one is ever likely to.

Ups and Downs since WW2

The club has had several threats to its survival and 'dodgy' periods. In 1947 the club was £650 'in the red'. In 1953, a fire at the clubhouse caused severe damage and could have been much worse had not a Tube train driver spotted it, got out at Ealing Common Tube station and called the Fire Brigade. In 1964, Ealing Common LTC (immediately adjacent to the club) closed down and the club gained 4 grass courts and 51 new members. However by far the biggest threat to the club's survival were the continuous attempts by the club's various land owners to throw us out during the 1970's and the 1980s.

Since WW2, Ealing can boast several top class players whose achievements for the county were notable. Richard Leslie, Mike Dennis, W. J. Gallimore (a splendid coach in addition to his match-winning abilities) and Denis Platford. Derrick Lester was for many years both Ealing 1st Team Men's Captain as well as Middlesex Men's Captain.

National Champions

Ealing's Men's 1st team distinguished themselves in the 1970's and 80's. 1975 saw the Men's 1st team attaining the "Triple": Slazenger National Cup, London Home Counties and Middlesex Club Champions. In 1976 they represented the UK in the European Championship in Paris, and repeated their London Home Counties success of the previous year. In 1977 they again took the "Triple", were Slazenger Champions again in 1978. In 1978, 1979 and 1980 the Men's 1st team were again Middlesex Premier League Champions. During this period the team was captained by Sir Richard Greenbury. The club also won the Middlesex League in 1986 and 1987.

Also during the 1980s, Wimbledon singles winner (1988 & 1990) Stephan Edberg was a member, as was Wimbledon singles runner-up (1983) Chris Lewis.

Other notable ex-club players who went on to become Veterans champions are Stan Howard and Keith Bland. Stan has won numerous national age group singles and doubles titles. Keith has been Over 50s World Doubles Champion twice and has won many UK age group singles and doubles titles.

The Club finally owns the grounds

The club gained ownership of its land in 1987. Re-investment in the club began in 1988 with the laying of 3 asphalt courts and construction of an air dome to enclose them. The dome opened in 1989.

Website

The club launched its own website www.ealingtennis.com in March 2001

Last Decade

In 2002, the club purchased the small plot of land adjacent to its property at the eastern extremity alongside Western Gardens. Some years previously one of the club's grass match courts had been sited here. The land was lost when the club gained its freehold in 1987. Work began on clearing the land in February 2003 and the new all-weather court was completed in June 2003.

In 2003 a Development Sub-Committee was set up which quickly initiated a New Clubhouse Project. A new coaching team was also assembled in 2003 and the club's first systematic, junior development programme launched.

From 2003 to 2012, the Ladies 1st Team won the Middlesex West Premier Division. Given that the club had dominated women's tennis in the UK over a hundred years ago, this recent resurgence in the quality of Ladies tennis at the club has a particular historical resonance.

In 2005, the club's first ever Junior Performance Squad was created - with generous support from John Martin Estates.

In 2007, our Men's 1st Team won the Middlesex West Premier Division for the first time in 20 years.

In October 2007 our 1920s clubhouse was demolished, and the foundations of the new clubhouse laid in November and December.

In November 2008 we opened our new clubhouse. The project was funded by member/ex-member donations and loans from Barclays Bank and the LTA.

In summer 2009 the club became an elite LTA club being awarded both LTA Clubmark and Satellite Performance status.

In August 2011 thanks to a generous grant from The Lottery via Sport England and the LTA the club replaced its 1989 air dome and lighting with a new dome and a new lighting system.

In summer 2009 the club became an elite LTA club being awarded both LTA Clubmark and Satellite Performance status.

In August 2011 thanks to a generous grant from The Lottery via Sport England and the LTA the club replaced its 1989 air dome and lighting with a new dome and a new lighting system.

2013 Installation of floodlights on three outdoors courts. This was a major success for the club having struggled over the years for permission to be granted. This has now significantly reduced demands put on court usage.

2014 ELTC installed a 3 x Outdoor artificial Clay courts. This was a decision made by all members and has proven incredibly successful with many players saying this is their preferred surface now. Do to the advanced drainage these courts provide they play fantastically well all year.

 

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