A number of our members represented the GB teams travelling to New Zealand this February, myself included. As you will all be aware the city of Christchurch suffered a catastrophic earthquake sadly causing loss of life and massive damage to buildings and infrastructure.
After a couple of days acclimatisation and hitting my team, the 45 men, had played South Africa on the Monday and had a good start with a 3-0 victory. On the Tuesday morning the day started with some light rain so we had practiced at the indoor centre with our match starting a little late at 11am. We were playing Germany, Andrew Evans was playing our first singles and was leading 6-0, 1-0; I think his opponent was praying for some type of intervention but didn't expect what was about to happen!
It started with a low rumble and within a couple of seconds the earth was moving so violently it was impossible to stand upright. As I looked around all the players on court were either sitting or lying down and the indoor centre where we had practiced that morning was swaying dramatically from side to side. The deafening rumble that accompanied the earthquake was terrifying and after some 6 - 8 seconds the ground began to split allowing water, sand and silt to spray up through the surface through a process known as liquefaction.
The whole event lasted just 11 seconds but sadly the devastation was dramatic - all thirty one newly laid plexipave courts were either split or rolled like a mountain range and under water.
I would like to praise the calm efficiency of the officials at the Christchurch Tennis Centre, who handled the players and supporters‟ safety and welfare with such reassurance and care together with the excellent work of all the representative of Vets Tennis GB who were immediately in contact with the players and their families back home offering reassurance and advice on insurance and repatriation matters.
As a result of the earthquake the World Team Men‟s 35, 45 and 50 and Women‟s 45 Cups together with the World Individual Championships the following week were cancelled. The remaining GB teams including a few of our members played on at the two other centres - Ashburton and Timaru - congratulations to you all:
Women 55's Team - Frances Candy, Pauline Fisher and Pat Wire
Women‟s 50 Team - Anne Clark