History of The Avenue Lawn Tennis, Squash and Fitness Club
History and Development of the Club
The Avenue dates back to 1902 when a group of players leased 4 grass courts on Havant Recreation Ground from the council. In 1908 the subscription was recorded at seven shillings and six pence per member. In 1912 the club became affiliated to the Hampshire LTA at a cost of one guinea.
In 1919 the decision was taken to move to the present site and the club became known as the Avenue Lawn Tennis Club. It is believed that the Club got its name because the original entrance from Emsworth Road was down a track winding between an avenue of trees. It took only 2 years for the club to be out of the red, having paid for the small pavilion and ground levelling.
In 1929 five new grass courts were laid, making nine in all. In 1939 a new pavilion was built, positioned where the car park and court 1 adjoin. During the Second World War one row of courts had not been used, the club was overdrawn and subscriptions had to be increased again. Arrangements were made for one member to graze his sheep on the unused grass courts.
In 1947 a new lease for 21 years was obtained from the owner Miss Marter. The rent was £15 per year. Croquet was also played at the Avenue and in 1955 a croquet match was played on 2 courts. In 1959 three shale hard courts were laid where courts 15, 16 and 17 are today.
In 1964 Miss Marter died and Havant Council purchased her land which included the Avenue Club, the market garden, the thatched cottage and most of the lane between Emsworth Road and the shore. The Club purchased the grounds from the council on September 25th 1967 for the sum of £5,000. The agreement included the council retaining a ransom strip around the club effectively making it impossible to re-sell to anyone other than the council. A new entrance was created in Southleigh Road replacing the original entrance on the Emsworth Road.
In the early seventies it was decided to build two squash courts and these were completed in 1972. The Club then became The Avenue Lawn Tennis and Squash Club. A year later the present club house was completed for approximately £12,000. In 1976 the third squash court was built.
In 1977 the three shale courts were replaced with three macadam courts. In 1980, just seven years after the pavilion was built, the state of the changing rooms was discussed at the AGM, and probably every AGM since.
In 1993 the multi-gym was introduced and in 1994 the Emerald hard courts were laid and floodlighting installed on two courts.
In 2001 the four Astroturf courts were laid and the other three hard courts renewed, with new high fencing all around and with floodlighting now on four courts.
Since 2004 improvements have been made to the bar, lounge and function room areas and the fitting of sliding doors between the latter two rooms has greatly improved flexibility. The gym has been extended to accommodate additional equipment; a tennis practice wall has been added and floodlighting extended so that all seven hard courts can now be illuminated. Last year a process of ‘rejuvenation’ was carried out on the four Astroturf courts which should extend their life by a further 5 years. In addition, security fencing and a secure entry system have been installed to prevent illegal access to the courts, the fencing between the two rows of grass courts has been renewed and the car park has been resurfaced.
On the social side the Club now has an active Social Committee who organise many functions such as Quiz nights, BBQs, dance classes, Christmas dinner, games evenings, themed events (eg James Bond night) and Halloween party.
Other activities held at the club include: Racketball, Pilates, Zumba, Tai Chi, Circuit Training and Spinning. There are Table Tennis teams competing in the Portsmouth Leagues as well as a Bridge club.
The Club has its own website and a fully licensed bar offering a wide range of wines, spirits, cider and draft lager. It also serves ‘Guest Real Ales’ that are regularly updated for members’ tasting pleasure. The lounge bar is available to members for private hire at competitive prices and a separate function room is also available.
The Avenue Open Tournament
The first Open Tournament took place in 1910 and continued every year with the exception of the years during both wars. In its heyday in the seventies, when the event was held as a warm-up to Wimbledon, the tournament attracted players such as Virginia Wade, Roger Taylor and Geoff Masters (an Australian who won the Wimbledon Men’s Doubles). On two occasions we had the complete Japanese and Egyptian Davis Cup squads competing in order to gain grass court experience before playing Great Britain.
When the event went ‘Open’ we were unable to meet the prize money and expenses required by the professional players and moved our date to August to attract the players on the holiday circuit. In 1992 the event became part of the Reebok tour which allowed us to attract sponsorship and improve the prize money. Several club members were heavily involved in making this tournament a success for so many years, in particular Eric Udal who was referee for 28 years, and on the committee for even longer. In 2004 a new closed tournament format was introduced.
2015 saw the re-introduction of an open competition – The Avenue Seniors ITF Open Grass Court Tournament. This was a great success and is now a permanent fixture on The Avenue’s calendar. We are proud to have been recognised as the ‘Seniors Tennis GB club of the year’ in 2017 and to have won the LTA County ‘Tournament of the year’ for the same event in 2019. We recently heard that we have been selected as the regional winner of the Competition of the Year for the South West region in the 2020 LTA Tennis Awards! We were put forward for the National award and were placed in the last 7 nationally.
Prominent Club Members
One of the club juniors who rose up to play in the 1st team at the age of 18 became the Honorary Secretary in 1954. This was Miss Pamela Parker who we all knew as Pamela Blowe, Pamela was a stalwart club member who in 2019 was to mark her 70th anniversary as a club member Pamela sadly passed away in March 2019 before we were able to celebrate this great achievement.
The year 1959 saw the President Tom Chignell become the first person to record 50 years membership. Roy Clarke in 1980, Pamela Blowe in 1999 and Eric Udal in 2003 have all achieved 50 years playing membership.
The four trustees who were instrumental in the Club buying the grounds from the council in 1967 were: Ted Byerley, Cyril Davis, David Lock and Graham Morris.
The Club has had 9 presidents over the years: Iain Cameron is our current President.
Please contact us to find out more about what the club has to offer and our membership packages, visits to the club are welcomed by appointment please call the club office to make an appointment.
023 9248 2750
The Avenue LTS&FC, Southleigh Rd, Havant, PO9 2RS
Office Opening Hours
Monday - Saturday 08:30-12:30 • Wednesday evening - 16:00-19:00