History of Haverhill Tennis Club
Earliest records show that tennis came to Haverhill when St Mary’s Tennis Club formed in 1890 with matches being played at Place Farm. During the 1920’s the club courts were where the Leisure Centre now stands.
The game became very popular during the 1930’s with the foundation of Haverhill Churches League. This was of great interest to the town causing much friendly rivalry and promoting many friendships in the community; the weekend tennis parties being very popular and also the chief means of socialising. The West End and St Mary’s churches had their courts and club huts along Fibre Lane. The old Independent Church (now United Reform) had theirs in Smarts Meadow (now Elmhurst Close) and the Methodist Church played originally on Greenfields (now Clements Estate) and then sharing the St Mary’s Church facilities.
Tennis in Haverhill
The Town Tennis Club, which had also been in existence for some years, played on the site of the present Fire Station and had the two best courts in the town. It also enjoyed the highest standard of play and one of the highlights of the season was the invitation extended to the Church Clubs for a representative tournament at the Town Club. However at the outbreak of the 1939 – 45 war tennis activities were suspended.
After the war and perhaps due to the age and various social reasons all the church clubs disappeared and interest in tennis appeared to dwindle in some areas. However, the keener members of the former Church Clubs then joined together to reform the Town Club and after a lot of hard work managed to get the courts into a playable state. These efforts proved very worthwhile and by 1949 the membership was over-subscribed and had to be confined to residents of Haverhill only.
The Club joined the West Suffolk Tennis League and over a number of years, on this site, had many successful seasons, both playing and socialising. Throughout these years the Club built up a useful bank balance and eventually purchased the ground for the sum of £200 and a nissen hut from the council, which had been used for accommodation on Hamlet Croft, for use as a club house and changing rooms.
During the late 1970’s membership fell dramatically &, with little or no support forthcoming, the Tennis Club “leased” the premises to the Sports Centre next door. Two of the four grass courts were converted & used as a putting green. The only hard court was hired as part of the Sport Centre’s activities, but it was poorly maintained & fell into disrepair forcing tennis club enthusiasts to hire local school courts.
Haverhill Lawn Tennis Club, as it was now known, moved to a new site situated in Reeds Lane, just behind the Fire Station, and in 1985 the Mayor and Mayoress of St Edmundsbury officially opened 3 new floodlit courts on the site. The Club remained there until 2004 when the Council purchased the site and leased some new land to the Club next to Haverhill Leisure Centre, alongside the astro football pitch. This enabled four new floodlit courts to be constructed which were officially opened that year by the Deputy Mayor and the Suffolk County Development Officer for the Lawn Tennis Association and it’s where the club remains today.
In 2009 the Club commenced the construction of a brick clubhouse on the site which included changing and toilet facilities plus a meeting room. During 2010, with the aid of a grant from Haverbury Housing, the building was fitted out internally, including a kitchen area, and officially opened in Spring 2011 by the Chairman of Suffolk LTA and the Mayor of Haverhill.
We continue to invest in the Club; our courts were resurfaced in 2017, part-funded by a loan from Suffolk LTA.