The 90th staging of the Bury & West Suffolk Tennis Tournament swung into action this week — and the anniversary was marked with a surprise special award which recognised the event as the best in the region.
After receiving the title of Suffolk LTA Tournament of the Year 2015 last year, the outstanding work of volunteers who put on the Grade 4 event was given further recognition at the 90th anniversary celebration reception at Culford School on Wednesday.
Chair of the organising committee, Sue Glasswell, was presented with a certificate to recognise the tournament as the East of England regional winner at the 2016 Aegon British Tennis Awards by members of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), with the west Suffolk tournament also being ‘highly commended’ behind Leamington Spa in the national awards.
“It was just wonderful and everyone involved was just so happy,” said Glasswell, who has a long history of coaching youngsters in Bury.
After play began across 11 hard courts at Culford School — including four indoor — on Monday, the first half of this year’s 28 events were completed over Wednesday’s Finals Day, with Saturday’s Finals Day due to conclude this year’s event, which was set to feature 391 matches, subject to no rain interference from yesterday.
Part of the blue riband age group — the Under-18 Boys’ Singles Final — featured an all-Culford affair, with number one seed Luke Watson recovering from losing the first set 3-6 to number three seed Adam Levey to go on to win after a nervy second-set tie-break.
The lowest age group was the under-8s, which was played in ‘red tennis’ format with Scott Watson winning the Under-8 Mixed Singles 10-3 in the final against Samantha Blaydon.
There was a fairytale journey to the Under-14 Boys’ final for Joe Warner, who was unseeded in the competition, but eventually met his match in number three seed Saul Hindmarsh in the final, who prevailed 6-1, 7-5.
Other winners included: Under-9 Boys’ Singles: Herbie Morris; Under-9 Girls’ Singles: Sophie Johnstone; Under-10 Boys’ Singles: Ryan Parkins; Under-10s Girls’ Singles: Bethany Gardens; Under-10s mixed Doubles: Ryan Parkins & Jayden Durham; Under-14s Girls’ Singles: Eleanor Widdows; Under-14s Girls’ Doubles: Eleanor Widdows & Hannah Wilson-Kemsley; Under-18s Boys’ Doubles: Adam Levey & Asa Sumner-Keens; Under-18s Girls’ Doubles: Laurie Cruickshank & Natalie Scott.
Tom McArdle was doing his first year as tournament referee and said: “I got to see some of the finals and the standard was really good.
“Luke Watson and Adam Levey fought out a very good final.
“Myles Orton, who is a coach here at Culford and was a very good player himself, played an exhibition match for our 90th anniversary against his young pupil Oscar Cutting and a lot of people were watching that and thoroughly enjoyed it.
“We have been dead fortunate with the weather. It poured down Wednesday afternoon and we lost a few matches, but we were able to go into the hall and finish the day.”
The anniversary drinks reception included around 90 guests, including Sandi Procter from the national LTA board, who gave a speech, as well as the Mayor of St Edmundsbury, Terry Clements. the leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, John Griffiths MBE, and the tournament’s volunteers throughout the decades.
Glasswell said of the special day: “It was a wonderful atmosphere.”