The new millennium seems to have sparked more changes or is it just that they are closer to hand? So far as playing is concerned there seems to be a gradual change of focus in the club's activities. The Dennis Coombe Cup (Doubles knock-out competition) was last held in 2000 and is in abeyance due to a lack of support. The Harley Watkins Cups for doubles has also recently had to be put on the back burner. This once popular handicap doubles week-end had been held for decades at The Palace Hotel, Torquay, scene of many a famous tournament. Dwindling support and a leaky roof over the historic grand old wooden floor have contributed to a suspension of activity. It will be for our future members to decide if we should resurrect this type of event.
On the other hand we have a growing list of international fixtures, thanks to the industry of our members. The year 2006 saw our first match with the Dutch Veterans played at Woking and then alternately home and away. Two years later the club competed against the Israeli veterans in Tel Aviv. And now we have fixtures against German teams. The hospitality offered to our club has been a delight and we are hard put to return it. In recent years members have found that if they can become involved in, say, just one of these home and away international fixtures, their tennis life experiences a new dimension.
At some point, probably much earlier in our history, the club moved from a selection committee to the appointment of match managers. It then became the custom for members to offer their availability to each manager as early as possible. The manager then looks at the quality of opposition and selects and notifies the team. With the widening of the age range and fixture list we are still having to learn how to balance things to satisfy as many members as possible.
But it was our 50th year that saw the most memorable change. In 2008 Ladies were both admitted to membership and came to serve on the committee. And as if that was not enough we have changed our age criteria from 2010 so youngsters of 35 are now veterans!
To mark our 50th Anniversary Honorary Member Lord Naseby hosted a cocktail party on the terrace of the House of Lords on 10 July 2008. The following day a match was played against one of our first opponents of fifty years ago - the AELTC together with our Norwegian, IC, Queen's Club and Fitzwilliam friends. This serves to remind us that as a Club of No Fixed Abode we are greatly indebted for the assistance we receive from the members of The All England Lawn Tennis Club and The Queen's Club for hosting our meetings, social events and some of our fixtures.
Hopefully, embracing ladies and enabling 35+ to move seamlessly from open to veteran competition will serve The Veterans' Lawn Tennis Club of Great Britain well in the next fifty years.