Margaret Court Cup returns to grassroots

THEY’LL be dressing in white and wielding wooden rackets on Albury Sportsground early next year.

But the fancy dress party during the Margaret Court Cup is more than a bit of fun, it’s all part of the start of celebrations for what will be the 100th year of the Albury Easter tournament.

A makeshift court will be drawn up on the Tigers homeground to celebrate the roots of the tournament.

It was here in the years from 1910 to 1940 that the footy oval was converted into sixteen grass courts to cater for regular play and the annual tennis extravaganza.

Albury tennis Association president Ken Wurtz said they wanted the anniversary to be remembered.

“It has to be special, it is only 100 once,” he said.

“I know Sandra Rouvray and her team have been scouring the op shops looking for the women’s gear and we already have the men’s long trousers.

“This is a tournament that has survived for more than a century, seen some of the great players here in Albury, including John Bromwich, Neale Fraser, Ashley Cooper, Owen Davidson, Janet Young, Lesley Turner, Dianne Fromholz, Evonne Goolagong and the most well-known of all, Margaret Smith-Court.”

The official launch will be held at Albury Sportsground on January 4 with a sausage sizzle from 6.30pm.

Rouvray said it was a fitting return to the original home of tennis on the Border.

“A court will be made up as they were at the original Easter tournaments, with players dressed in period attire and using the old equipment,” she said.

“The first staging of the Easter tournament was in 1910.

“There were no women’s singles until 1915 and the tournament was not held during the war years of 1917-18 or 1943-44.

“The centenary of the event, with those four missing years, is for next year, 2014.

“The grass courts were first opened as Kendall’s Courts in Wodonga Place, South Albury around 1940.”

The Easter tournament will also include a celebratory dinner at the Commercial Club on Saturday, April 18.

“Well known former Davis Cup players Rex Hartwig and Allan Stone ... have said they are coming,” Rouvray said.

“As part of the centenary celebrations, a special exhibition will be held at the museum and will feature never before seen trophies from tennis greats, as well as the story of tennis in Albury through the voices and memorabilia of players past and present.”

She said help from the public was being sought to acquire as much tennis memorabilia as possible for the exhibition.

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