98 Years And Counting!
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.