The inaugural International Tennis Day was a huge success. The annual date is 20 June, the anniversary of the Tennis Court Oath at the start of the French Revolution. Modeled after World Squash Day, the first ITD came off wonderfully.
All four playing nations participated and photographs and reports went up onto the ITD page at Facebook, a seamless way for everyone to follow each other’s activities in real time. You can find the ITD page here.
Australia got the day started off right. Melbourne had much play and in Hobart before a full dedans, Barry Toates hosted a skills shootout, as well as a crazy doubles match.
Europe had a beautiful day to celebrate tennis. In Dublin a group- of leaders of the Irish Real Tennis Association, including the 2014 IRTA champion, gathered with the banner outside the old Guinness court. In France the ITD banner was proudly displayed at the Paris court. In England, a number of clubs put the banner in their grille and enjoyed what turned out to be a warm Friday of tennis.
The highlight in England was at Radley, where they established a court record for seventeen continuous hours of play. The first players at daybreak included Chris Ronaldson, in his pajamas complete with his plush toy; the final players in the late evening were a pair of Radley College boys. “In between every category of player was represented,” reported Maggie Henderson-Tew: pros and amateurs, club members, guests, a group of visitors (from IBM), men and women, adults and juniors, left-handers, right-handers and wrong-handers, fancy-dress and all-white sports kit wearers. The age range was seventeen to seventy-one years old and handicaps ranged from singles figures to the eighties. Maybe we’ll try for the full twenty-four hours next year and a couple more decades in age.”
In the U.S. the most populated celebration came at the annual Newport Handicap Doubles, Kip Curren’s classic tournament where a hundred players and friends gathered. In Aiken, a fifty-ball skills shootout tested players abilities to serve accurately and to find various openings. In Washington Ivan Ronaldson gave a series of lessons to juniors; Barney Tanfield did the same in New York. In Philadelphia, the court was filled for a dozen hours of play and a cocktail reception welcomed many summer members and guests. The highlight was a screening in the RCOP racquets court of a three-minute stop-motion animated film set in the world of tennis. The film, by Philadelphia artist Joshua Mosley, gave everyone a new way of thinking about the game and a wonderful cornerstone around which to wrap a day of celebration.
Onward to Saturday 20 June 2015.