A (not so brief) History of The Club By Our Oldest Member - Stan Dugmore
In 1949 I came to Johannesburg on my first visit, representing Border in the National Championships, played over Easter at Ellis Park. I was staying with an aunt and uncle and their daughter, my cousin Maidy Tennant, who brought me to the club. I think she may have been club Secretary at the time and she had been a member for many years. Her brother Lex Tennant had won the club singles in about 1947 and the two of them introduced me to Parkview.
When I was transferred to Johannesburg in 1952, I naturally joined Parkview straightaway after the welcome I had received in 1949, and there was quite a high standard of tennis. This was in about October 1952 when the Southern Transvaal League was due to start. Eric Sturgess was the top player at Parkview and captained the first team.
He invited me to play number 2 singles. I think Brian Smith was number 3. From what I can remember, our number 4 struggled with their matches, so Brian, Eric and I had to win 5 matches between the three of us. This would give us a win in the singles, but in the doubles matches we needed six players, three couples, and we were unable to field three strong couples. This meant that we always lost our doubles fixtures, especially against Wanderers who were the regular league champions and they had several Springboks in their team. There were six teams in the first league and we played each team twice, one Sunday would be singles only and the next Sunday would be doubles only.
In 1952 and 1953 this was our modus operandi. Then in 1954 Gordon Talbot had won the Under 18 South African singles championship, and he came into the first team to play number 2 to Eric. His Dad, Tommy, and his Mom, Ruth were both longstanding club members and Ruth had won the club singles. This helped strengthen our singles team but not our doubles team. Ironically all four of us who were also Wanderers members, went and practised assiduously for some weeks at the Wanderers on Saturdays as the Parkview courts were occupied with social tennis.
From the late 1940s any prospective member wanting to join the club would be invited on three Saturdays to play with and in front of committee members, and they were only allowed to join if their standard came up to scratch, so as to keep up a good overall club standard. This fell away when there was a dearth of players.
In 1954, Eric partnered Gordon Talbot, and he put Brian Smith and me together as a second doubles couple. As our third couple, whoever they happened to be, were unable to win a match, which meant out of five matches, Eric and Gordon had to win all three, and Brian and I had to win two. With our preparation and Eric’s strategy, we managed to win the league for the first time. We managed to repeat this each year from then on until about 1963. Our success attracted more good players and we had two teams in the first league, 12 persons playing first league, including Clive Brebner, Foxy (Ian) Campbell and Guy Koenig.
In the early 1960s, before teams for the league were picked, a sheet of paper was put on the board and there were at least 30 names vying for 24 places. Social tennis was equally active, we would have all five courts occupied, with 10 to 12 sitting out and waiting to play. The clubhouse was full each weekend. Once a year Mrs Schoch would phone a member to let that member know it was their tea day, and they would provide tea and eats and be the MC for the social tennis that Saturday.
In our first team, Eric Sturgess and Guy Koenig were number 1 couple. Gordon Talbot and Clive Brebner were number 2 and Foxy Campbell and Stan Dugmore number 3. Brian Smith, due to illness, had to give up tennis during that time. Brian returned to play as a veteran and was an esteemed club and committee member for many years. Court 4 is named after him.
Court 1 is named after Eric Sturgess for his outstanding commitment to the club. The naming of the courts was the idea of Barbara Rose-Innes – an excellent and dedicated chairlady to whom we owe much.
Most of our teams during that era were provincial players or Springboks.
Our other team was also very strong, and consisted of Derrick Lawer and Ricky Lautenberg, Cedric Webber and Dickon Rigby, and Ralph Gandy and Wykie Viviersand Paul Koep alternated. These were our club’s post war golden years, possibly brought about by our success under Eric’s guidance in the first place. As I mentioned, this attracted many top players to the club.
From the 1950s on, arranged tennis could be played on a Saturday afternoon up to 2 o’clock, and from then on social tennis for men and women. On a Sunday morning, it was generally only men, and they could play arranged tennis from 8 o’clock to 9.30am when other members would arrive, and it would be social men’s tennis. In those days, a man called Andries was the groundsman and he used to drag, water, roll and mark the courts, which were all clay, in time for us to play, and the courts were always kept in excellent condition, and remained so until the advent of the all-weather court in the mid-50s. From then on we had people like Cynthia who lived on the premises and catered for all our needs, as Maria does so wonderfully today.
Changing from clay to all weather was an adaption as it was a faster surface and there was no sliding as on clay. The faster surface benefitted the aggressive net player more than the defensive player.
After 1963, Eric retired from playing at that level at about age 43 and losing out number one player had its repercussions as he was a tennis icon. After that we lost six or seven of our better league players as some were getting older and others were transferred for work to other places or had different commitments. At the time we had four teams playing league and six reserves. From here on we were never as strong again, and a few years later we battled to field a strong first team.
Then a few years ago Gavin and Rod Alence resuscitated our league and we are entering teams once more. This is a good sign. Many thanks Gavin and Rod.
A bright spot in the seventies was when Heather Townsend and Margaret Simm ran a vibrant junior section, about 30 to 35 enthusiastic juniors on a Saturday morning.
A very big thank you to Heather Townsend who helped so willingly, unselfishly and so successfully for so many years. They brought through the future club champions such as David and Colin Smith who took after their Dad, Brian, and won the club singles numerous times between them.
Today, there is a devoted core of enthusiastic players, and it is so nice to see everyone coming regularly on a Saturday and enjoying the tennis, camaraderie and friendship.