Our leagues are over half a century old!
The Leagues started in the summer of 1972 and the first affiliated members were - Middleton Cheney, Banbury West End, Kings Sutton, Banbury School, and two Company teams from Alcan International and Alcan Booth. The following year they were joined by Banbury Town and Brackley and in 1977 Byfield signed up.
The leagues have been growing very fast and by 1979 Brackley, for example, aleady had three teams playing in the Leagues.
Deddington Tennis Club joined the leagues in 1981...
Now in the winter season of 2023 we are 106 doubles teams strong ( each 4-6 players ) and over 900 players from 16 different Tennis Clubs from Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire are able to enjoy tennis all year-round playing in our four Leagues.
How did it all start? And why do we have such an unusual 11 games format for each rubber in our Summer League!?
In 2017 Sue Jelfs who is a longstanding member at Banbury West End Lawn Tennis & Squash Club kindly shared with us her memories (Many thanks Sue!) explaining how and why :
“I remember Ken Young, a member from Banbury Tennis Club, talking to Peter Billingham , a Banbury West End member, about setting up a tennis league on a similar basis to the Banbury Town Composite Badminton League. I wasn't party to the conversation but I overheard what they were talking about.
Peter was a very good player and head of PE at Banbury School. Clearly, they were wanting a match that could be played in an evening, so needed to be finite, as it were. And so the format was hatched.
As with the badminton , there was to be three Ladies' rubbers, three Men's and three Mixed. Because of the format for tennis, each player maintained their position throughout the match, eg 1,2 or 3. Originally the 11 games were just played with serve but some years later, the tie break was introduced at 5-5.
The Floodlit League began some years later, when Banbury West End lit the bottom three courts. I'm not exactly sure of the date but something like 1984 comes to mind. Again, Peter was instrumental in establishing the format, that being 2 sets Men's 2 Women's and 4 mixed. I think the format has remained the same.
Sadly, Peter died prematurely in 1992 and Ken died within in the last year in his mid 80s.
However, local tennis continues to thrive thanks to their inspiration.”