LAWN tennis was probably played on the
present main ground very soon after the Club obtained its lease
from Government in 1905, making it one of the original sports.
Tennis, of course, had to vie with cricket and could not be played
when a cricket match was in progress. A nearby ground by Carnarvon
Road used by the Wig-Wam Tennis Club became more or less the alternate
Tennis Section of the KCC. Under its President J R Capell, father
of the KCC President R S Capell (1962-1967), it amalgamated with
the KCC around 1915, according to R S Capell.
The earliest official reference to tennis
at the KCC talks of one George Duncan being Club Singles champion
in 1906 and 1907, and in 1906 also taking the Handicap Singles
and the Championship and Handicap Doubles with R Lapsley. This
is the earliest reference to tennis at the KCC that has been discovered.
On Saturday 11 July 1908, at the official opening of the new pavilion,
KCC played against HKCC. Klimaneck and Clelland, Fowler and Edwards,
and Lapsley and Brewer represented the Club. Each pair played
12 games against each opposing pair. The results were HKCC - 59
games, KCC - 49 games. Neither Club was represented by its strongest
team and owing to the heat; the tennis was often not of a high
order. However, the interest and keenness displayed by both sides
augured well for making this contest an annual Inter-club fixture.
From 1909 (the inaugural league) to 1915,
KCC won the Men's Doubles A Division League Championship four
times - in 1909, 1913, 1914 and 1915. The attraction must have
been the Shield presented by Club President Dr Charles Forsyth
(1910-1923), who also presented the Shield for the Men's Doubles
B and C Divisions. KCC's 1909 winning team included the following
combinations: J R Mead/J Clelland, R Lapsley/G Duncan, S E Green/Brewer,
and W L Weaser/C J Jeffrey. In winning the League title they beat
all seven other teams - Chinese YMCA, Civil Service, Craigengower,
Lusitano, Schoolmasters, Taikoo and YMCA. As the SCM Post summed
up: "...KCC are again playing an unmistakably strong side..."
S E "Sammy" Green was Club Singles
Champion in 1909 and 1910. From the League records published in
the Hong Kong Tennis Association's 1975 Official Handbook, it
can be seen that the end of KCC's winning streak in the Men's
Doubles A Division coincided with the entry of the Chinese Recreation
Club after they gave up cricket to concentrate on tennis. KCC,
apart from winning the previously mentioned titles and the inaugural
Mixed Doubles A Division in 1929, did not feature again in League
championships until the ladies won the Doubles A Division in 1950.
In 1915 Government granted the Club additional
ground to the northwest of the present cricket ground, between
it and Jordan Road, formerly the site of the military mule lines.
On 15 December 1915 the Committee called an EGM to decide whether
to erect a new pavilion at an estimated cost of $10,000, or to
layout three tennis hard courts at a cost of $2,400 together with
fencing in the newly leased land at an additional cost of $1,000.
The scheme for the new tennis courts and fencing was adopted.
Dr Forsyth reminded the members that in the near future, the Club
would have to consider the advisability of removing the cinder
track in order to make the cricket ground the finest around. "We
do not wish all the money to be spent on tennis courts, because
after all the Club began as a cricket club."
However, it was not until Saturday 28 September
1918 that the scheme approved in 1915 was to become a reality.
A temporary but substantial bamboo fence enclosed the area within
which were two tennis hard courts and a turf section which was
used for tennis or bowls. The laying-out of this new section had
cost some $5,000. Sporting men from all clubs were invited to
the opening. War conditions imposed a simpler commemoration than
might otherwise have been arranged, but KCC's hospitality was
proverbial. Tennis and lawn bowls matches were arranged and the
cricket team was at home to Chinese Recreation Club. The tennis
matches resulted in a win for E Abraham's team by 57 games to
R E Lindsell's team's 42 games. The frequent inclemency of the
weather and the unavailability of the main ground when in use
for cricket made the provision of the new hard courts much appreciated
by the Tennis Section. The conflicting claims of cricket and tennis
players had produced friction in more than one club.
During the Thirties the Men's Singles Club
Championships were dominated by Teddy Fincher. Like all Club facilities,
tennis suffered as a result of neglect during the period from
December 1941 to September 1945 and lawn tennis was not possible
again until the main ground was ready for cricket in the 1946/47
season. The hard courts were re-laid during 1949/50, the same
season in which the Ladies A Team won the League.
In 1962 when it was decided to build a
swimming pool complex, the Club lost two of its five tennis courts.
Floodlighting was installed on Hard Court No. 1 in 1967 and later
improved upon to incorporate, courts 1 and 2. Although this did
provide extra playing hours for social tennis and better lighting
in the closing stages of League matches, the overall standard
of floodlighting left much to be desired. The completion in 1980
of two new all-weather tennis courts on the roof of the car park,
built over the previous courts, allowed the professionals and
social players alike the right amount of light.
Although Joan Legg has put a lot of effort
into helping our juniors, no-one can beat the number of actual
hours Trevor Bailey has spent on the tennis courts with his two
very promising lads. Teddy Fincher assisted all sportsmen, not
only tennis players, by "forgetting" to send them the
bills for equipment purchased. In subsequent years, members such
as Dick Linggo, Singh Rusli, Mike Prew, Brian Catton and Ed Hardisty
have all been very active in the administration of Hong Kong tennis,
which with its annual tennis classic, is putting Hong Kong on
the tennis map. Over the years KCC has enjoyed many memorable
fixtures with other clubs in Hong Kong and overseas. There are
still regular fixtures with Tennis Civil de Macau and the RBSC.
The Recent Years
The Eighties and Nineties were lean years
for the section. Although the Club continued to field competitive
teams in national leagues and competitions the section found it
hard to come by any silverware. The 1989/90 season proved the
highlight, with both the men's and ladies' teams winning their
respective Leagues. This was especially sweet for the men who
had missed out the previous season after coming jointly top of
their League only to lose 5-4 in the play-offs.
In the late Nineties, the Club started
opening its doors to promising young players, including Polly
Lam Po Kuen, who as well as leading the Ladies A Team to consecutive
League Championships in 1999 also won both the Hong Kong National
U18 and the Ladies Open Championships. She has since become the
HKSAR's leading lady play and has represented It in the Federation
Cup, All-China Games, and the Asian Championships in both singles
and doubles. Polly continues to inspire the Ladies A+ Team who
have consistently finished top of their League in recent years.
The new millennium has seen a renaissance
in tennis. With more than 200 playing members, the Club is currently
fielding 14 teams, competing in all eight Men's League Divisions
plus three Ladies' teams in each of the Evening and Morning League
Divisions. With the help of Julie Fowler and Club coach Todd Johnsen,
junior tennis has also made strides forward, with many more opportunities
for the children of members to start playing and representing
the Club in one of three Junior teams.
Social tennis is also thriving with the
friendly atmosphere of Sunday morning tennis fast becoming an
institution. Tennis is a wonderfully social game, and the KCC
is blessed to have such a cheerful number of social players who
have collectively contributed much to their current success of
The recent success of the section, both
socially and in competition, has attracted many of Hong Kong's
best tennis players to the Club and raised the standard of competitive
tennis being played. This years KCC players achieved tremendous
success at the Hong Kong National Championships. The Men's Championship
was won by Giovanni Muratore, the Ladies' Doubles by Cindy Lee
and Sarah Fowler. Of the four players contesting the Mixed Doubles
Final, three were from the Club with Giovanni and Cindy defeating
Sarah and Andrew Town. Sarah Fowler, at 16 the youngest of the
three, deserves special mention. Sarah, the middle child of the
three Fowler children who all represent the Club in a number of
sports, first started playing tennis at the Club as a little girl
with her parents, Paul and Julie, and has gone on to reach an
ITF world high ranking of 495.
To celebrate the Club's centenary, an Interport
Centenary Tennis Invitation was held at the Club on 19-21 March
with the RBSC and the Penang Sports Club, both clubs having a
long association with the KCC. To symbolise the Club's centenary,
the combined age of every Doubles pair had to be more than 100.
49 Club members registered and were split into two teams, while
the 33 guests from the overseas clubs entered a team each. The
youngest player to participate was 22-year-old Polly Lam who was
paired with 78 year-young tennis veteran, Fred Yin. After a closely
contested tournament the KCC A Team emerged the victor by a single
point. The farewell dinner and prizes presentation started before
sunset and continued well into the early hours of the following
morning as the Tennis Section, its guests and an assortment of
others helped celebrate the Club's centenary in style.