A Day Of Tennis

What could epitomise a British Summer more than grass court tennis, Pimms and strawberries!  The Aegon Ilkley Trophy has returned to the attractive small town of Ilkley, set in the heart of the beautiful Wharfedale countryside yet easily accessible from Leeds by car or train.  It’s being held for the second year at the Ilkley Lawn Tennis and Squash Club which has superb facilities, both indoor and outdoor courts (grass and all weather) and a modern club house with an attractive cafe bar.

Play on Centre Court, Ilkley Tennis Club
We arrived by car and parking was well organised in a neighbouring field, just a couple of minutes walk from the club.  Tickets can either be purchased in advance or on the day, but for the final two days it’s necessary to pre book as they sell out fast.  Stands are erected around several of the show courts and apart from the finals, spectators can move around and sit where they wish.  From my photos, you may think that there were very few spectators the day we attended but it was actually quite busy – we arrived early and I wandered round taking photos at the start of the day before most people had arrived so that I could devote the rest of the day to watching myself!

An outside court with scenic background
Play starts at 11.00 am on the show courts and usually 12.00 noon on the outside courts as those do not have covers so the lawns need to be completely dry to avoid court damage and players slipping on damp grass.

Refreshments can be enjoyed in the marquees
This tournament is the largest in Yorkshire and attracts world class up and coming British and international players giving them an opportunity to perfect their game on grass shortly before the world famous Wimbledon tennis tournament takes place.   Last year’s winners of both the men’s and women’s tournaments were given wild cards into Wimbledon and they both performed remarkably well, each reaching the last 16 in their respective singles competitions.  I wonder how the players we are watching today will progress?  I need to keep a look out for them as they could be stars of the future.  Two competitors appearing this year at Ilkley are already in the top 100 men’s rankings and other players not far behind.

Winners prize money for the men’s ATP Challenger Tour is €42,500 and for the  ITF  Women’s Pro Tour it is $50,000 (I am not certain why the men’s prize money is given in Euros and the women’s in US Dollars).

Umpire, ball boy and girl and players
110 local school children are trained as ball boys and girls for the tournament and take a great pride in their duties having a rotation of one set on duty and one resting.  I hope they get to keep their smart kits as souvenirs – I’m sure they will treasure them in years to come.

Spectators can either bring their own picnic with them or eat in one of the marquees.  We looked in the stylish cafe bar in the club house but this was being used for players during the tournament. In the marquee we couldn’t resist a bowl of strawberries topped with whipped cream and a glass of Pimms it’s just synonymous with tennis!

Play at the Aegon Ilkley Tennis Tournament

As is typical at outdoor summer events in Britain, dark clouds threatened and it finally started to rain at 4.15 pm when play was halted for the day, but we were ready to make our way home by then as we had seen three full matches and the first set of another.  Play was of an extremely high standard and the court side view is much better than from a television screen.

We’ve been to Wimbledon several times, and Queens once but in my view the Aegon Ilkley Trophy is just as nice and a fraction of the price.  It’s held in mid June each year and details can be found here.   Ilkley is a delightful small town which deserves mention so I will write about it in a future post.

Do let me know if you also enjoy tennis and if you’ve attended any of the Grand Slams or smaller tennis tournaments such as this one.

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40 thoughts on “A Day Of Tennis

  1. Pingback: Ilkley Ch Q R3 Berankis v Ebden – Doublefault.lt

  2. Hi, enjoyed reading about your visit to the tennis. As we live just south of Melbourne we have taken the opportunity to go to the Australian Open several times. The atmosphere is always great but in recent years it has been too hot in our opinion. Would love to go to a night session sometime, perhaps next January. Cheers, Mark

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    1. Hello, Thank you for reading and commenting on my Tennis post. I’ve visited Australia a few times but not made it to Melbourne yet but, of course I would like to go there. Occasionally at Wimbledon we have felt it was too hot if we had been in the sun.

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  3. I used to play when I was young but haven’t played for years now. As for watching – whenever in Britain in summer, Wimbledon on the telly is a must. My late mother-in-law lived in Eastbourne, and they had some pre-Wimbledon tournaments there. And oh, how I miss Pimms! We can’t get it anywhere on land but next week we’ll take the ferry over to Stockholm and at least last year they had Pimms in the duty free. Will have to stock up 🙂

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comments. One of my friends goes to watch the Ladies pre Wimbledon tennis at Eastbourne each summer even though she lives at the other end of the country! I’m surprised you can’t get Pimms in Finland, I thought it would be popular there!! Enjoy midsummer.

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  4. Looks great! I grew up with tennis, playing it and also my parents were avid tennis enthusiasts who played with passion and also watched all tennis matches in the world (at least it seemed to me). These days I don’t really have anything to do with tennis, sadly. I’d like to start playing again but it’s quite expensive in Finland and I don’t have any friends who play. In Malaysia, I went to see a tennis match with friends starring Michael Chang (we were fans!!). In the evening we called his hotel and asked to speak with him. For some reason the receptionist put us through and we talked to his dad!! He was very nice mind you, even though we were silly teenagers. 😀

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    1. It does seem more popular and affordable in the UK than Finland. Both our children had tennis lessons from an early age starting with ‘Short Tennis’ with large, soft balls and they continued until they went to University, both preferring playing tennis to contact sports such as football or rugby. I’ve played quite a bit of social tennis over the years and prefer it to squash. Right now, evenings seem dominated with the European football matches which the men in the family like to watch so I’ve been going out for walks, etc as it’s not for me!! I remember Michael Chang playing and I thought he was great too!!

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  5. I had never heard of this tournament but it sounds wonderful. I have visited Wimbledon, but arrived the day before the tournament and since it was drizzling, there weren’t a lot of people practicing. I found the museum there quite fascinating since I have followed (and played) tennis since I was about 15. Last year I went to the US Open for the first time and could not believe how exciting it was to be among my heroes and sheroes in tennis! I was there the second and third day of the tournament so got to see everyone before they started getting eliminated. Being in a crowd of people who loved tennis as much as I do was unbelievably fulfilling!

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    1. How amazing to spend two whole days at the US Open, I’ve only viewed Flushing Meadow on television but it must have been marvellous to sit their amongst the crowds watching the tennis. The Ilkley tournament will grow even bigger next each being the UK’s foremost Challenger event with prize money doubling so it should attract more top players. Thanks for reading and responding to my post.

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      1. One of the coolest things about the US Open was, we got to watch them practice! And the practice courts were more intimate so we could see the athletes up close. We only planned to go for one day, but once my friend and I were there, we decided we’d rather spend our money on another day at Flushing Meadows than to see a play. It was easy to get tickets.

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Miriam. The matches certainly take on a different perspective when you are court side. I’d quite like to go to the Australian Open one day but as we’ve not visited Melbourne yet I’d obviously prefer to spend my time looking round than watching tennis. We applied for Wimbledon tickets in the ballot four times and were lucky to get them on three occasions, the most notable being the Maria Sharapova v Serena Williams Ladies final where we were on the second row! The whole set up at Wimbledon is gorgeous with the floral displays etc all you need is some warm sunshine!

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  6. Pimms brings back so many wonderful memories. And tennis, it is my favourite. What a lovely day. I have been to the Brisbane International Tennis, Sydney International and Australian open in Melbourne.

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