Tennis courts

An ode to Oldway and old tennis courts


It was quite heartbreaking to watch the greatest male tennis player of all time, Roger Federer, retire last week.

He and Nadal have been my favorites for many years now.

I have always loved tennis and I started playing with my father in my childhood, then I had the chance to go to the convent of the Marists, considered locally as a great tennis school.

It spawned some good players in their time, Angela Mortimer, Sue Barker and my former doubles partner Corrine Molesworth.

They were all coached by the legendary Arthur Roberts, but I left convent to go to Torquay Girls’ Grammar School when I was 13, so my interest in tennis faded for a while.

After moving to London, I continued to play casual games, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

When I met my husband, who was an avid player, he had a court in the garden and so every year there was a tennis tournament, which attracted some very good social players.

We also spent a lot of time in Florida, where we had a house on Marco Island, and regularly played doubles with friends. Still great fun but with an element of good humored rivalry.

After all the tennis, I ended up with a few injuries that required surgery on my shoulder and another on my elbow, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to play much again.

But, at the last Wimbledon, I made contact with an old friend of mine, Peter Gawn, who was a tennis coach at the Queen’s Club in London and who also had a stint at the Palace Hotel during an illustrious tennis career. ‘coach.

He is now looking to move back to Devon so came for a few days a few weeks ago and I took him to visit the tennis courts in Torquay.

All of the courts in the hotel were unplayable and sadly so neglected that they will probably never be repaired.

We had a match at Torquay Tennis Club and then over breakfast for the Torbay Business Forum someone mentioned Oldway.

It took me back to my tennis days at the Marist convent, when my best friend Lyndy and I used to go there regularly to play.

It was to be a very nostalgic and interesting trip.

First of all, the lovely ladies who run the little tea hut next to the tennis courts are all volunteers for the Friends of Oldway Gardens.

They are dedicated to supporting their cause of harvesting what they can to help keep the gardens tended. So much so that, although they don’t even have electricity connected to their hut, they manage to help themselves to teas and coffees by carrying thermos bottles of hot water with them.

It kinda seems to mean that someone doesn’t arrange for the electricity to be reconnected so that they can at least boil a kettle and have a heater on in the winter.

The bowling club there seems to be well supported, as are the dog training classes which take place on what were once excellent grass tennis courts.

We decided to do a knock-up on one of 11 rather sad hard courts.

There are now only about two that are playable, but even those need to resurface to play properly.

However, these courts are gems in waiting – unlike my tennis!

It was wonderful, though, to be back on the tennis court hitting balls because I think that’s something that helps clear the mind of difficult thoughts.

The focus associated with being outdoors and exerting energy does a lot for the soul, something we all need from time to time.

As I am a vertical challenge – short legs for you – I was pretty desperate running at school but was very quick around the tennis court over short distances and of course we always prefer to do what we we are better.

So although the tennis courts had seen much better days, it was great fun.

Oldway is probably one of Devon’s finest architectural gems, and its grounds are stunning, so hopefully the plans in place to restore the building come to fruition soon.

In addition, I hope the board members to whom I sent a proposal give it serious consideration so that we can bring Oldway back to life.

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