Tennis 'ace' Sally celebrates almost seven decades at historic Mansfield Lawn Tennis Club

When tennis ace Sally Beeley was just a teenager in the early 1950s, she picked up a racket for the first time.

Thursday, 27th June 2019, 11:47 am
Mansfield Lawn Tennis Club president, Sally Beeley, on court.

And the rest, they say, is history.

Playing socially with her friends in Mansfield Woodhouse before moving to Mansfield Lawn Tennis Club, she developed the skills that would lead to her becoming the best in the world for her age bracket just last year.

And now the 82-year-old star, who has been president of the club for more than two decades, is celebrating alongside the club as construction work on its new clubhouse commences.

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Mansfield Lawn Tennis Club president, Sally Beeley, on court.

Sally arrived at the club aged just 14 and, after getting to "a reasonable standard", began winning competitions and joining club's teams.

Having seen generations go through the club during her time, Sally thinks tennis competitions were "much more social" in her day and has relived some of her glory days.

She said: "Some friends and I used to play at Yeoman in Mansfield Woodhouse on the public courts and we had quite a little group going.

"We played and we played there, and everyone got to quite a reasonable standard.

Mansfield Lawn Tennis Club president, Sally Beeley, on court.

"We were encouraged to join the tennis club, and we were the youngest there. We must have been about 14 and others were about 17. We had a brilliant time."

Sally became more involved with the club as the years went on, winning competitions when she was as young as 15 and travelling across England.

She said: "Gradually we got assimilated into the club, and I started getting involved with the teams.

"I went into the old tournament round and had to go to Nottingham, which meant an hour and a half journey and a lot of walking down to the castle where they took place.

Sally (bottom centre) with ladies team members during the late 1950s.

"I remember doing homework on the bus journey back. It was lovely, the competitions were more social than they are now, because in those days you were left there for the day, whereas now the children are often brought in for their match and then they go home."

Sally met her husband John, who was aged about 17, when she first arrived at the club.

Sally and John, who now live in Kirkby, went on to have children and grandchildren and are part of four generations of Beeleys who have trained at the site.

She also went on to create the juniors division during her time at the club and, with Wimbledon just around the corner, has told her story in the hope of getting more people involved with the "wonderful, social sport".

She said: "It's such a wonderful sport, it really is amazing for fitness because you work your whole body and you're working your mind.

"But there's the social aspect of it as well which I think is so important, as you meet great friends who you get to spend a lot of time with.

"I don't know why so many people no longer play tennis, we used to have a membership of about 400, but we probably have between 100 and 200 now. It's a shame because it's such an underrated sport."

The tennis is hosting a free session next month as it hopes to "take advantage of the Wimbledon buzz".

It will take place from 1pm on Saturday, July 20, at the site just off Pheasant Hill, near Chesterfield Road South.

People of all ages and skills are invited to the free event and to learn from the club's talented coaches.