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We Love Tennis

Tennis clubs in Southampton 1920's

Am currently researching the history of my tennis club:

Bassett LTC to write a book for its 100th anniversary in 2024.

I would kindly request any info. on BLTC itself, as well as others clubs which were around at that time. I am particularly interested why some clubs ceased to exist eg Harlandic, Springhill, Bellemoor and their location?

I do hope you tennis historians out there can help?

Joe O'Flaherty

It is currently unknown exactly when Southampton LTA came into being, although records indicate that in 1912 there were 10 member clubs (one of which - South Hants - is still in existence today!). In 1928, SLTA took on the running of the Apsley League, originally started in 1924.

Since then it has been the custodian of this incredibly popular Summer Mixed Doubles league. In the meantime, responsibility was also assumed for the Southampton Winter League and Southampton Adult and Junior Open Tournaments (although these Tournaments are currently not staged).

If anyone does have any further information, please do contact us.

Winter League

Winter League

The Winter League runs from September to March (weather permitting!) and consists of teams of 4 players, with separate leagues for men and women. Each pair plays 2 matches against each opposing pair, and matches consist of 2 full sets if the event is tied at one set each, a 10 point "Match Tie-Break" will be played.

There is also a mixed doubles league, with teams consisting of 2 mixed pairs, with each pair playing 2 mixed doubles. Each event consists of 2 tie break sets, again if the event is tied at one set each, a 10 point "Match Tie-Break" will be played.

Little is known today of the history of the Winter League, although records do go back to 1976 when the winners of both Men's and Ladies' Division 1 were Bassett A. Back then, all of the results and tables were calculated manually in meticulously maintained notebooks, whilst during the 1970's and 80's, it appears that the press coverage awarded to local tennis by the Daily Echo was plentiful.

If anyone does have any further information, please do contact us.


History to present day

The inaugural meeting of the Apsley League was held on November 19th 1924 at the instigation of Lord Apsley who wished to present a trophy for competition among lawn tennis clubs in the locality.

Eton-educated Lord Apsley - Allen Algernon Bathurst - had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order during World War 1 and served as MP for Southampton from 1922-9. He died in service during World War 2 whilst commanding the Arab Legion in Malta in 1942.

The clubs originally represented were Belmoor, Banister, Thornycroft, Woolston, Gas Company, Swaythling, Southampton Hardcourts, Southern Railway, Cambrians and Glebian TC. Lord Apsley was elected President and Mr. S. Hybart Secretary.

The league had 28 clubs entered in the first year and were divided into 3 divisions. Only 2 of these clubs still exist today - Bassett and Glebian. The original winners were Southampton Hardcourts (Division 1), Thornbury (Division 2) and Glebian (Division 3).

Although it has been agreed originally that the 3 winners would play off for the trophy, the winners of the lower divisions did not dispute Hardcourts' claim to the championship.

By 1928 there were 30 clubs competing in the league and it was now that the league amalgamated with Southampton LTA, to whom repsonsibility for administration of the league was then passed.

There have been very few officials in the long history of the league. The Chairmen have been Lord Apsley, S Hybart, W Green, J Saunders, M Trippe, N Slade and M Houlton. Current Chairman Margaret was the first lady to hold office! The secretaries have been S Hybart, E Obee, W Green, P Lodge, M Trippe and M Windle.

Bassett has been the most successful in the history of the league, winning the Premier Division on 21 occasions, including a run of 11 consecutive years from 1970! Belmoor won 9 consecutive titles among their total of 10 (from 1946), whilst West End and Winchester have also had impressive runs.

Since 1959, clubs have been able to enter more that one team in the league, a rule change that has seen the number of participants increase dramatically.

In 2009, 26 clubs were represented in the league, with a total of 54 teams participating. 17 clubs entered 2 or more teams. Teams are comprised of 8 players; 4 men and 4 women. Players take part in 2 matches each fixture; 1 mixed doubles and 1 straight doubles. Matches are played to best of 3 sets. 


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