Tennis Club History

The Fremantle Lawn Tennis Club existed in 1895. It seems, from a newspaper article (see below) in April of that year, that games were first played on the Barrack Field (now Fremantle Oval). Tennis courts were not available at Fremantle Park until the end of 1896, when one asphalt court was ready for use on Xmas Day. The official opening of the Fremantle Park Lawn Tennis Club was on Saturday afternoon, 30 January 1897.

tennis club opening 1922

Fremantle Tennis Club Opening Day. Photograph from the Fremantle City Library Local History Photographic Collection: 1475B. In 1921 St John's Tennis Club was a one court social affair. Members applied to the Fremantle Council for a grant of land to build six lawn courts in Fremantle Park. The courts were opened in December 1922. (The text is from the Library entry. The photo shows Opening Day 1922, but Tennis Club courts had been on Fremantle Park since before the end of the previous century: see below for documentation.)


The Western Mail, Saturday 20 April 1895: 17.


A Fremantle correspondent writes :—"The fencing and other improvements to the Barrack Field, Fremantle, are not progressing as rapidly as could be wished, and it is to be feared that unless greater promptitude is exercised, the ground will not be in a fit state for the forthcoming football contests. The immediate removal of the trees and sand that litter the ground is necessary in order to allow for the hardening of the ground and the growth of grass, and it is to be hoped that the Council's officer will see to this without delay."

In view of the fact of the Barrack Field being somewhat limited in extent, it is suggested in some quarters that it would be advisable for the Fremantle Lawn Tennis Club members to endeavour to induce the Municipal Council to erect two asphalt courts on a portion of the present park. The position would, it is said, be in many ways more suitable, as it is much more central, and there is abundance of space. Possibly concerted action on the part of lovers of the ball and racquet would result in a couple of courts being open for next season's tournaments.

B. Speary, who has proved himself one of the best bats in Fremantle this season, has accepted a position at Messrs. J. & W. Bateman's fish and fruit canning factory at Mandurah. Consequently he will be an absentee from the match between Perth and Fremantle on Saturday.

Messrs. Forrest, Emanuel & Co. announce that they will offer sale on Thursday, April 25th, at Strickland's hotel, the racehorses Wandering Willie, Dryden, and Plaudit.


The Inquirer and Commercial News, Friday 10 April 1896: 5.


(By 'The Marker.')

The suggestion made in this column that a meeting should be called for the purpose of forming a tennis club in Perth is being taken up, and it is expected that a meeting will be held some evening next week. When a start is once made matters will move rapidly, and the only trouble will be to curtail the membership, rather than increase it. The test match will practically see the last of the cricket, and then athletes will look about for some form of exercise for the winter months, and will naturally turn to lawn tennis. Cricketers, as a rule, are expert wielders of the racket, and many of the players of the older game are the best tennis exponents in the colony.

During the holidays, a great deal of tennis has been played, and most of the private courts have been in full swing. The weather, with the exception of Good Friday, has been delightful for the pastime, there being a good dear light with but little wind. That the courts at the Association Cridcet Ground are not much used was made apparent by the fact that no sets were going on them during the holidays.

I am told that some of the Fremantle tennis enthusiasts are urging the starting of another club there with two or three good courts. There are a number of players at the Port, and there would be a greater likelihood of a good piece of ground in a central position being obtained there than in the city. If only two clubs could be formed in Perth and two in Fremantle, an association could be immediately established on the same basis as those in the other colonies. There is nothing like association tennis for improving one's play, for it forces a man to practise, and to play his very best in the matches, instead of 'fooling' away an afternoon on the courts, as so frequently happens when only practice sets are being contested.

The most noticeable feature of the game in the past two years has been the wonderful increase of the 'volley'. Before that time it had been the custom for the server in doubles to follow on in his service, and volley the return, but now the same thing pertains to the singles. To do this with success the server must be a remarkably accurate one, and be able to place the ball in either corner of the court, for, otherwise, the striker-out will invariably pass him along the side lines, or across court. There is a much better chance of following in on the service on asphalt than on the turf, for in the former case the ball bounces much higher, and forces the striker-out to stand on the base line or beyond it. The server is thus given more time in which to get to the net, and is enabled to watch the flight of the ball more accurately. To players not accustomed to this game, it is very disconcerting to have a man rushing in after his service, and it frequently happens that the novice drives the ball out of court or straight into the server, who then has him at his mercy.

The advantage gained by the server in doubles following in to the service line is made apparent by recent statistics, which show that the servers win 80 per cent. of the games in big matches. Numerous attempts have been made in England to do away with this great advantage to the server, but no feasible scheme has yet been suggested. The plan of not allowing the server or his partner to volley the return was tried, but would not work, as it gave too much advantage to the strikers-out, for they were enabled to get command of the net after returning the service. The ' vogue of the volley,' as it is called, has now come to be a helter-skelter rush for the net, with the result that the pair reaching it first wins the stroke.

The West Australian, 9 May 1896: 2.



The first annual meeting of the above club was held at the Federal Hotel on Thursday evening. Mr. Jas. Bassett occupied the chair. The hon. secretary, Mr. Chapman, read the annual report, which showed that the club had passed through a very successful season. The treasurer's report showed the club to be in a good financial position, there being no liabilities and a credit balance. The chairman congratulated the members on the satisfactory position which the club had attained considering the difficulties which had attended its establishment. He felt sure that if the members practised and worked unanimously, with the assistance of an energetic committee, the club would be able to hold its own against all comers. The following were elected a committee for the ensuing twelve months:—Messrs. Jas. Bassett, St. John Matthews, and R. W. Hodge, with Mr. Geo. Moore as hon. secretary, and Mr. P. N. Farquhar as hon. treasurer.

The Inquirer and Commercial News, Friday 3 July 1896: 11


A general meeting of the Fremantle Council was held last night, when there were present — the Mayor (Mr. E. Solomon, M.L.A.), and Crs. F. Jones, R. C. Forsyth, J. J. Higham, E. W. Davies, R. S. Newbold, J. J. Holmes, R. Jarvis, J. R. Doonan, F. Instone, and C. P. Stubbs.


Cr. Higham introduced a deputation from the Fremantle Lawn Tennis Club, and the Bowling Club. Mr. A. J. Diamond, on behalf of both clubs, asked that they should receive consideration from the council. He thought that the whole of the public grounds should not be given up to cricket and football. Many persons, especially the ladies — did not care to watch either of these games, and it was only right that their claims should receive attention. What the clubs wanted was a three-years' lease of a small corner of the park opposite the Park Hotel. Here they could establish a bowling-green and a tennis-court, and this would not interfere with the use of the rest of the park for other purposes.

Several of the councillors expressed the opinion, that the matter required consideration, and accordingly, Cr. Higham gave notice of motion for the next meeting of the council — 'That the application of the members of the deputation be granted ; the clubs to pay a nominal rental for the lease.'

The West Australian Saturday 21 November 1896: 3.


The newly formed Fremantle Tennis Club is making rapid progress with the laying down of courts on the area of ground alloted it in the Fremantle Park by the Municipal Council. Two asphalt courts have already been put down, and these will be in a condition for play in a fortnight's time. The ground has been pegged out for five courts, and the work of laying down grass courts will be taken in hand shortly. On Wednesday evening next a meeting of the club will be held at the Park Hotel, at which the provisional committee's report will be presented, and a committee, secretary, and treasurer will also be elected for the first year. All gentlemen interested in the game at the Port are invited to attend.


The West Australian Friday 25 December 1896: 3


By energetic management the Fremantle Lawn Tennis Club has now been established on a fair basis, and the courts which are being prepared in the Fremantle Park are beginning to present a finished appearance. One of the asphalt courts has been completed and skirted with tan. The nets have been placed in position, and members are notified by the secretary, Mr. Jas. Bassett, that this court is now open for play.


The West Australian Saturday 23 January 1897: 3


A special meeting of the Fremantle Municipal Council was held last night, at which there were present the Mayor (Mr. E. Solomon, ML.A.), Crs. H. E. Wilson, W. C. Forsyth, J. R. Doonan, J. J. Higham, M.L.A, E. W. Davies, F. J. Instone, R. Jarvis, C. Stubbs, and R. S. Newbold.
An invitation to the councillors to be present at the opening of the courts of the Fremantle Park Lawn Tennis Club on Saturday afternoon, January 30th, was accepted.

The West Australian, Monday 1 February 1897: 3




A portion of the Fremantle Park has been cut off by the municipal council and leased to the Fremantle Bowling Club and Fremantle Park Lawn Tennis Club, for a term of 3 years, at a nominal rental. The Bowling Club have laid down one rink with grass and the members have, in conjunction with the Tennis Club, expended £170in improving and fencing the ground. The Lawn Tennis Club has been assisted by the council, who have laid down two excellent asphalt courts at a cost of £150. On Saturday afternoon the Mayor of Fremantle (Mr. E. Solomon, M.L.A.) formally opened the tennis courts, in the presence of a large assemblage of ladies and gentlemen. Mr. A. B. Kidson, M.L.C., president of the club, in asking the Mayor to perform the ceremony, heartily thanked the council for the generous manner in which it had assisted the club. Mr. Solomon briefly replied, and then hitting a tennis ball over the net formally declared the courts open. Afternoon tea was served to the ladies, the sterner sex adjourning to the Park Hotel, where a series of toasts were honoured. Mr. Kidson, who presided, proposed "The Mayor and Council of Fremantle," mentioning that while the club possessed two tar-courts, thanks to the liberality of the local governing body, the members themselves intended to plant two other courts and a portion of the grounds with grass. The Mayor replied, as also did Cr. J. J. Higham, M.L.A., who stated that while the bowling and tennis clubs had spent £170 on the ground, £400 more was needed for the erection of a pavilion and necessary works, The Mayor gave "Success to the Fremantle Park Lawn Tennis Club," coupled with the names of Messrs. Kidson and Bassett (the secretary). Mr. Bassett stated that the bowling club, of which he was also secretary, had spent most money on the ground, viz., £108 out of the £170, and he trusted that the council would see its way to assist in the formation of the bowling greens as well as the tennis courts. The tennis club possessed 63 paid-up members of both sexes. Other toasts followed, including those of Mr. F. W. Burwell, who had acted as honorary architect to the club, and Mr. J. Augier, of the Park Hotel, who had generously contributed the cost of the christening of the new courts. Several games were played during the afternoon.

Tennis Club Opening

The Western Mail, 9 July 1897: 15.

The final events in the Fremantle Lawn Tennis Club's first championship tournament were played off on Saturday, with the exception of the Champion Doubles, which had to be excluded from the programme owing to want of time in which to play off. There was an unusually large attendance at the Park Court during the day, and great interest was manifested in the finishing contests. Afternoon tea was provided by a number of ladies on the ground. At the conclusion of the games Mrs. A B. Kidson presented the prizes, which amounted to about £40 in value, to the successful competitors. In the course of a short address Mr. A. B. Kidson, M.L.C., president of the club, congratulated the members upon the success of the tournament, and said that he hoped such interesting and evidently popular contests would be held more frequently. He also referred in commendatory terms to the generosity of Mr. Hindhaugh, of Perth, who had come forward as the principal mover in connection with the tournament by donating the greater part of the value of the prizes. The following were the results of the play in the finals : Ladies' Singles.—Mrs. Cameron beat Miss Sadlier, 6-4, 4-6, 6-8. Ladies' Doubles.—Mrs. Rockliffe and Miss Sadlier beat Mrs. Moss and Miss Sterne, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1. Handicap Doubles.—Sadlier and Williams beat Bowen and Julius, 6-5, 5-6, 6-3. Mixed Doubles.—Sadlier and Miss Sadlier beat Oldham and Mrs. Barker, 6-5, 6-2. Champion Singles.—E. Bosnian beat Green, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.

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