Cheddar Tennis club was formed in 1924 through the inspiration of John Tyson and Ernest Pavey who persuaded Mrs Lillie King to let part of one of her fields adjoining Barrows Road, Cheddar for three grass courts and a separate junior court to be laid. The membership fee was set at 2/6 entrance (12.5p) + 7/6 (37.5p) annual senior subscription.
The club thrived until World War II and was dormant from 1944-47. Then, in 1948, a new enthusiastic committee was appointed and the first pavilion was erected in 1950. This was a very dynamic period for the club, led by stalwarts including Jack Trew, Alan Jennings and John and Renee Ellis. In 1954 two hard courts were laid in place of the grass, providing year round tennis for the first time and a new pavilion was built in 1958. £100 was allowed for materials, with members doing most of the building work! At this time annual senior subs were £3.
The club joined the LTA in 1955 and entered the North Somerset League in 1973 with one ladies and one men’s team. Winter league matches began the following year.
In 1967 junior coaching was introduced with senior members taking turns to supervise, and by 1979 there were 85 junior club members.
Floodlighting was installed in 1983 and in 1985 the two courts were resurfaced at a cost of £10,258. Former Wimbledon referee Alan Mills (see photo above) came to officially open them.
The club now entered another very active phase under the chairmanship of Phil Deane, with the focus on finding a new home, as Lillie King’s descendants wanted the land back for development. The chosen site was the parish playing fields at Sharpham Road, and in 1991 TV football pundit and tennis enthusiast Jimmy Hill officially opened four new hard courts, two with floodlighting, total cost £40,000. Annual senior subs were now £50.
For the next few years the club played at both sites, eventually leaving Barrows Road with much regret after 74 years, marking the occasion by playing ‘The Final Set’ at a farewell party held on court in 1998.
Junior members and coaching had been an important and very successful part of the club for many years, run by dedicated members, but in 1997 Alastair Gregory was appointed as the club’s first professional coach.
In the early 1990s the club gradually improved facilities at the new Sharpham Road site, first with floodlighting for the remaining two courts and then with a Portakabin acquired from the University of Bristol to use as its clubhouse. The limitations of this were really exposed by the Foot & Mouth epidemic in 2001 when access to toilets and running water in the cricket and rugby club pavilions was banned.
After another period of sustained activity the club succeeded in raising the funds to build a modern brick clubhouse with full facilities and this was opened in 2003 at a cost of £60,000. Since then the club has continued to improve its facilities, most recently by reconstructing the four macadam courts in 2006/7 and it now boasts some of the best facilities in North Somerset.
The club took another step forward when it became the first tennis club in the West Country to be awarded Clubmark accreditation in 2008. This is a national quality accreditation for clubs across all sports with the aim of demonstrating that clubs are well run and use best practices for recruiting volunteers, child protection, junior coaching programmes and health and safety.
In 2009 Joan May stood down from the management committee after 30 years in various roles, including ladies captain, club secretary, membership secretary and, for the previous 7 years, treasurer. In 2011 Jennie Colton retired as Club Secretary after 25 years in the position. Jennie was presented with a bouquet from club members, in recognition of her tremendous service. Peter Colton stood down as club chairman in 2012 after 13 years of service.
In 2014 the club celebrated its ninetieth anniversary with a weekend of tennis events in June. Adults and juniors completed a challenge to play 90 sets over two days, finishing with a BBQ for past and present members and a parents and children’s mini red tournament.