FormationThe six tennis courts in Victoria Drive were laid out in 1892. In the same year the antique clubhouse was built. The total cost was £600, paid by Sir Alexander Walker of Kilmarnock and Troon, who also made the land available. Sir Alexander granted use of courts rent free when the club was formed in 1895 with a membership of about 40. The subscriptions were eight shillings a month for gentlemen and six shillings a month for ladies. Subsequently the property was leased to the club at “a peppercorn” rent. The club was finally granted the full freehold on 23rd August 1950.
As part of the research into the early days, a visitors book dating back to 1915 has revealed that at that time this club was known as Troon Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. At present I have found no information about founder members or the location of the Croquet Lawn.
Until the formation of the Ayrshire Lawn Tennis Association in 1923, local clubs were affiliated to the West of Scotland Association. The ALTA is now known as Tennis Ayrshire and the SLTA is known as Tennis Scotland. The club is presently affiliated to both organisations.
The original clubhouse started as a building with a veranda which has been covered and used as a sitting area for many years. There were two large changing rooms with toilets and a galley kitchen. At some time in the sixties a wooden extension was added, allowing a more comfortable area in which to enjoy after match refreshments and occasional social events.
For the best part of 85 years the surface of the courts was blaes with tape lines. This required little maintenance other than sweeping the lines and occasional use of a roller. However, they did flood easily and rain frequently stopped play and could not be used during the winter months.
In the mid seventies the three front courts were resurfaced in porous concrete with the same process being carried out on the back courts in 1980. This type of surface became very slippery when wet and was not kind to the body and joints of the players.
By 1985 the committee was investigating the then new sand filled artificial grass surfaces. In 1986 the front three courts were prepared and laid with Desso Sportilan by an Edinburgh based firm of civil engineers, called ERDC. These were all weather courts and suitable for play twelve months of the year. The back courts were covered in 1991 with a similar surface and they remain the same today.
These carpet surfaces require maintenance to prolong their life and do not last forever. After only seven years the front courts were showing signs of wear and tear. This was of course mainly due to an increase in use as people were now playing tennis twelve months of the year instead of six.
Another type of sand filled grass was laid in 1994 after the installation of floodlights on the front courts. David Lloyd was invited to declare the Opening of the courts with floodlights and there was great jubilation. This now meant that tennis could be played until ten o’clock at night all year round.
Troon now had the best playing facilities in Ayrshire and had winter members from other clubs.
On many occasions during the past twenty three years the subject of a new clubhouse was raised and always dismissed. This was partly due to the cost and because many older members were fond of the traditional building. For more than thirty years there has been a large patio area beside the clubhouse where players can sit and spectate the many competition ties and matches that are played.
The funding of all development work has been met largely by the club itself. Grants and loans have been used when available. This has always been attainable due to the advice of David McDonald, a forward thinking member who held both the offices of Treasurer and President. He set up a sinking fund and every year an amount of money was set aside in a savings account to gain as much interest as possible.
Fortunately, by adhering to this advice, the club currently holds a substantial pot of money which will enable it to proceed with the building of a new clubhouse.
Sport Scotland has agreed to donate £50,000. Some of the members have pledged support and the fundraising committee are working like beavers to raise more money by hosting enjoyable social events.
Matches and Competitions
Troon Lawn Tennis Club has always been competitive. They have in the past entered as many as four ladies and three gents teams into the Ayrshire leagues. Both ladies and gents enter a team in the Scottish Cup competition. Usually two teams play in the Ayrshire mixed doubles competition.
Within the club there are both singles and doubles championships played.
For many years Troon hosted The Ayrshire Junior Championship Competition for which young tennis players came from all over the country. In the Sixties the annual Ayrshire Lawn Tennis Tournament was held here and lasted for a week, attracting notable players of the time.
Juniors and Coaching
The club has always encouraged juniors. In the early days juniors were coached by interested members on a Saturday morning. This was always free. Father and son J.D.C. Stewart and J. Stewart are two names which come to mind. However, in the nineties it was decided that a professional coach would be more appropriate, particularly to work with better juniors and even adults who were interested in improving their game. Then the teams thought that they could benefit from coaching. The current situation is that we have a club coach who works with all ages and abilities. There are coaching sessions both in the evening and the weekend. There are both Easter and summer schools for the children. People do pay for this service but the club assists with the financing of Junior Coaching.
The local secondary school, Marr College is given the use of courts. Interschool matches and school championships are played on these courts.
The club enters both boys and girls teams into the Ayrshire Junior Leagues.
There have been several members who have represented the County in the past such as John and Derek Braid, Alan Black, Robert Yule and George McDowall who returned to tennis when his family began to play in the nineties. George donated the wooden benches which are placed in front of the courts. Recent county players were Jett Morton and Janette Mather.
Probably the most famous of all past players is the late Ian Collins who played in the Davis Cup Team and also played at Wimbledon. He was Scottish Champion in 1926, 27, 28 and 29. He was doubles champion on numerous occasions and mixed doubles champion in 1932 and 33. Lt. Col. I. G. Collins O.B.E. was president of the club many times over several decades.
Linda Zorget, 2009.