Ace memories of tennis in South Shields over the years
How timely that, with Wimbledon in full swing, local lad Graeme Foreman got in touch to tell us about his involvement and success in tennis and the world of sport, both near and far.
In particular, Graeme turns the spotlight on his days, both past and present, with Westoe Tennis Club.
This is what he wrote: “Thought I would drop you a line regarding the recent tennis pictures that were in the Shields Gazette.
“I have a variety of bitter/sweet memories with Westoe Tennis Club, spanning over a 35-year period.
“My initial memories as a young boy, aged around three or four years old, involve watching my mam and dad playing numerous matches for the club.
“My dad ended up winning around 13 club championships as well as representing Durham and Cleveland’s County Team.
“Whilst my parents were playing, I had the fortune of being given my own playground with a variety of adults more than happy to hit tennis balls with me, sometimes even on the grass courts.
“Westoe at the time had some of the best grass courts in the county (later to become some of the worst hard courts and now a car park for caravans thanks to some horrific decisions).
“I believe the picture I am in when I was young (shown right) was either my first or second entry into the U18’s event, which at the age of 9/10 I didn’t do very well.
“I always remember getting a lot of positive comments from Beth Balfour, a school teacher who ran the tournament at the time, with over 100 people from all over the area taking part each year.
“Beth was a fantastic servant to the club and has since passed away, and is a big miss to the club.
“From those early years of development; hitting balls, enjoying time at Westoe and honing some skills, it wasn’t long before I was able to improve my tournament success rate.
“From such a grounding, I ended up being number one in Durham and Cleveland at every age group, including seniors before leaving Westoe for the first time at 18 to go and play tennis in the USA on a scholarship.
“For that opportunity I will be forever grateful to Westoe Tennis Club.”
Tomorrow: Graeme tells about his time abroad before returning home to Westoe.