Foundation and the Early Years

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In 1958, when the Veterans' Lawn Tennis Club of Great Britain was formed, there was no organised playing of veterans' tennis in the British Isles although many other countries were ahead of Britain in this respect.

DinnerDennis Coombe, the New Zealand Davis Cup player and Tom Todd jointly decided during the covered court tournament at Torquay in November 1958 that it was time to form a club for older lawn tennis players.  On their return to London a dinner was arranged at the Hyde Park Hotel for a few of their close friends who were all keen tennis players despite their advancing years.  The dinner was held on the evening of 11th December.

The title of the club had already been decided by the two initiators - The Veterans' Lawn Tennis Club of Great Britain - and the initials VLTCGB were printed on the menu that evening.  After the dinner a meeting was held and it was resolved that the first committee should consist of Dennis Coombe, Jack Deloford, Pat Hughes, Harold McCarthy, Dr. Dick Sandys and Gwyn Tuckett.  Harold McCarthy was elected Chairman.  The treasurer was Stanley Clark and the organising secretary Tom Todd.  It was unanimously agreed that Leslie Godfree M.C. be invited to become the club's first president and Stanley Doust, Sir Gerald Hargreaves, Lt-Colonel Archie Kingscote and Dr. Bill Lillis to become Vice-Presidents.  All accepted.

It was also proposed that the committee should elect up to forty honorary members of any nationality or residence and over the age of 45 who were acknowledged to have contributed to the continued advancement of the game of lawn tennis.  Certain qualifications were required of those wishing to join the new club.  Firstly it was required that prospective members must be over the age of 45, living in the British Isles and British at the time of their birth.  The last requirement was so the Irish veterans would be eligible to join.  Playing qualifications which the committee considered necessary included having played in the Championships at Wimbledon, having won an event at an open tournament, or having played for one's country.  The qualifications were subsequently amended.

first meetingThe main object of the club, apart from the playing of veterans' tennis, was to promote the playing of lawn tennis in its original spirit - for the love and enjoyment of the game alone.

It was decided that the club colours should be two narrow gold stripes on a dark green background.  The dark green was intended to represent the evergreen outlook of the members and the gold stripes the sere and yellow of advancing age.

Throughout 1959 the membership steadily increased and by June of the following year it was possible to organise a champagne cocktail party at the Hurlingham Club.  The party was well attended and many of the leading personalities of the tennis world were present.

Then by the end of the year it was felt that the club was sufficiently well established for the first annual dinner to be held.  The date of the dinner was 7th December and the venue the Carlton Tower Hotel.

Before long a team selection committee was appointed and consisted of Dennis Coombe and Leslie Godfree.  Pat Sherwood was appointed match secretary while Eric Lowden took over the responsibilities of the treasurer.  Bill Latham became the club secretary.  Matches were soon arranged against many prominent clubs including The All England Club, The International Club, The Queen's Club, The Royal Navy and The United Banks.

So within three years of the formation of The Veterans' Lawn Tennis Club of Great Britain it was established on a sound footing and has since, as the first veterans' club in Great Britain, continued to lead the way.

The VLTC of GB played an important part in establishing in 1974, with LTA approval, The Veterans' Lawn Tennis Association of Great Britain.  The first President and Chairman was Russell Young DSO, who was a Vice-President of the VLTC of GB at the time.