Remembering some great long weekends of tennis

May 27, 2016

John Wearne’s recollections of some memorable June Long Weekend tennis tournaments and the people who played in those matches began on May 11.  His memories are continued here.

We soon went from the Vince Dobb/Eric Parsons standard up to a new level with the arrival of Gordon Bowen. Gordon won the singles a number of times until unseated by Peter Emmerson.

When Peter entered the tournament we were impressed that he was the famous Roy Emerson’s cousin (though their surnames were spelt differently) but didn’t know too much more about his ability. To be safe, we seeded him 7th and as a result he met Gordon in the quarter finals. There was no doubting that this was the real final, and Peter prevailed. The list of good players grew and grew. In one tournament, leading state player Fred Sherriff went out in the first round. He was the winner of titles all over NSW, but went down to that excellent Walcha player Neville Holstein. Fred never returned.

A conga line of great men players graced this era – Rodney Brent, Fred Sherriff, Ted Mcquillan (Father Of Top Player Rachel Mcquillan), Peter Emmerson. Max Schaeffer, Neville Holstein, John And Graham Moseley, Gerry O’Connor, Vince Dobb, Eric Parsons, Neville Shaw, Bob Jolly, Stuart Bowen and the best of them all, Geoff Pollard.…….the list goes on and on. And the girls? Jill Blackman (Emmerson), Elizabeth Fenton, Meryl Jones (Brent), Noeline Turner, Margaret Mclean, Gay Rose……all top players.

It helps spell out the standard if you consider that Geoff Pollard represented Australia in the Junior Davis Cup at Miami playing number 2 behind John Newcombe and ahead of another left hander who was quite useful – Tony Roche.

Ted Mcquillan, runner-up at Bingara one year behind Rodney Brent, in successive years at the Northumberland Open at Newcastle put out John Newcombe and Spanish Davis Cup player Juan Gisbert in the first round.

My rankings for the best players to play here would be – 1. Geoff Pollard, 2. Rodney Brent, 3. Peter Emmerson, 4. John Moseley, 5. Gordon Bowen. I’m sure that would get plenty of debate!

There were some hilarious times………

Once, in the old club, signs were evident of a big party brewing on the Monday night when the tournament was finished. Club President Alan Stehr gave strict instructions to Secretary Ossie Ritter to close the club at 10pm sharp. When hearing this, someone found Ossie a very comfortable chair by the fire and issued him with a number of quick sweet sherrys. Result? – oblivion. When Ossie finally came to it was 4am, freezing cold outside, and there were still 40 people in the club, which by then resembled a pigsty.

On another occasion, I was umpiring the ladies singles final on the second court while the final of the men’s doubles was on court one.

Neville Shaw was involved in the doubles while his girlfriend of the time was playing next door in the singles final. Needless to say, the two had partied hard all weekend.

When Nev’s girlfriend fainted on the court half way through the second set, the doctor, local GP Frank Hollinshead, was extracted from his usual position behind the two-bob poker machine to see to the patient.

It was even more appropriate that Frank and Nev were great mates. The diagnosis took place at courtside, and by this time Nev had sought leave from the doubles to show some interest next door.

When Nev finally weakened enough to ask Frank – “What is it, Doc? , he received the reply – “its eight-hour pregnancy!”

I remember Geoff Pollard (later to be International Lawn Tennis President, if you please) and Geoff Sweetman doing a skit at the Sunday night concert that involved them both in their “ budgie smugglers” in a small bathtub singing “Rubber Ducky”. I remember Ron Brogan’s annual Johnny Ray impersonations that seemed to go on for hours, and probably did.

The country tennis tournaments in those days usually involved trips to Burren Junction and Barraba as well, and TED SPARKE and I also played at the Northumberland Tournament in Newcastle to reciprocate. They were great days indeed.