The Royal Tennis Court
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The Club

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Board of Directors

Patron: Her Majesty The Queen

Chairman: Michael Day, CVO
Secretary: Paul Newton
Treasurer: Ian Wimbush
Membership Secretary: Nicola Doble
Directors: Phil Dunn; John Halliday; Paul Mather; Owen Saunders


Membership

The Royal Tennis Court is the oldest surviving court in England, and stands in the historic surroundings of Hampton Court Palace. The current court was built by Charles I on the site of the one played on by Henry VIII. When you play here, you are treading in the footsteps of sporting monarchs.

How to get started

Book in for your first session with one of our Professionals. You'll have an hour on court, racquet provided, get a first introduction to the game and will be hitting the ball from the start for the all-inclusive cost of £52. The dress code on court is 'predominately white' and you will need non-marking court shoes (the shoes worn for badminton, indoor hard court tennis, or similar).

Age and ability

Real Tennis is a sport that can be enjoyed by anyone of almost any age. Whether you're eight or eighty, as long as you can swing a racquet and move, you can play. If you have played any other sport, you will have developed some useful skills. Of course, we also encourage complete beginners with little, or no sporting experience to enjoy this wonderful game.

Juniors

We are especially keen to encourage younger players to the game. The Professionals will be happy to advise in individual cases but Junior players from around 8-10 years old are typically strong enough to swing a racquet. We aim to create a relaxed and encouraging atmosphere and for all players under 18 years old we provide: reduced court fee, regular coaching courses, club tournaments and matches, access to national and international tournaments and a free second hand racquet.

Handicap system

The game benefits from an excellent rating system. From the moment you start playing, you'll be given a handicap and a world ranking! This means that, in theory, any two players can get together for a competitive game.

The social side

Members of The Royal Tennis Court are a friendly bunch. The atmospheric and historic club rooms are a lovely place to get a feeling of Hampton Court Palace. The club organises a programme of competitions and social events throughout the year such as the barbecue in the private garden and a carol service in the atmospheric surroundings of the Chapel Royal inside Hampton Court Palace, installed by Henry VIII in the 1530s, and remodelled for Queen Anne by Sir Christopher Wren in the 1710s.

Membership pack

You can download a membership pack containing full details of membership and court fees, and application forms for full membership, or for a 3-month trial membership, here.


Tournaments

The club runs several tournaments throughout the year. There are tournaments in singles and doubles, and for small teams. Some tournaments are played with handicap, some level, and some have age restrictions: both upper and lower age limits.

Singles

The Barker-Camm Cup is the club level singles tournament. It is played in grades throughout the season, with the finalists in each grade gaining entry into the grade above. The winner of the A grade is the club champion.

The Lathom Browne Cup is the club handicap singles tournament. Matches are played within grades until the quarter-finals, where the grade winners meet each other. Handicaps on the day of the match are used.

The Seal Salver is a knockout competition played throughout the season, and is open to players aged over 50 at the start of the season. Handicap in this event is based on age; actual handicaps are ignored.

Doubles

The Harris Watson Trophy is the club level doubles tournament. It is played over two weekends, with each pair being given a bye to enter the tournament at a stage appropriate to their handicap.

The de Laszlo Bowl is a doubles tournament in which there are restrictions on where players can move around the court. Pairs are selected so that there is as little overall actual handicap difference as possible between pairs, but matches are played off level over the course of one weekend.

The King's Goblet is a fun doubles tournament, with timed matches played off handicap. The tournament runs over a long weekend and is open to both members and non-members.

Team

The Night Pennant is a social round-robin tournament played between five teams of three players each. Three pennants are run during the season, for handicap ranges 20-40, 40-55 and 55-70. Matches are played on Thursday evenings. The evening of the Final is combined with a dinner in the club rooms for all 15 participants.

Social matches are run home and away throughout the season, usually on a Sunday, and give RTC members a chance to play at other courts, and vice versa. Although the matches are strictly friendlies, pride - and in some cases a trophy of dubious origin - is always on the line! If you are interested in playing in social matches, speak to the professionals or contact Owen Saunders via email.

Club

The Pol-Roger Trophy is the inter-club knockout team tournament run over the course of the season by the T&RA, contested generally by players with handicaps better than 25.

The Brodie Cup is the inter-club knockout tournament run over the course of a season by the T&RA, for players with handicaps between 30 and 55.

The Chetwood Trophy is a tournament run by the T&RA, which brings together the finalists of UK club's individual handicap tournament from the previous season, for a tournament played over one weekend.


 

The Professionals

 

Contact the Professionals

Telephone: +44 (0)20 8977 3015

Email: info@royaltenniscourt.com


Past Professionals

The club dates back to 1818, but Cardinal Wolsey built the first court at Hampton Court Palace between 1526 and 1529. Almost 500 years later, the service wall of that court is still in use today.

Between 1529 and 1818 tennis was under the control of the monarch who appointed a "Master of the King's (or Queen's) Tennis Courts" to run the courts on a day-to-day basis.

Until late Victorian times the professionals were called "markers".

Name Position Tenure
Josh Smith Assistant 2013 - current
Chris Chapman Assistant 2010 - 2019
Stefan King Senior professional 2008 – 2013
Ben Matthews Assistant / Tournament professional 2011 - 2012 & 2006 – 2010
Camden Riviere Assistant 2005 - 2006
Matthew Ronaldson Assistant / Senior professional 2003 - 2005
Ben Ronaldson (son of Chris and Lesley) Assistant / Senior professional 1994 - 2008
Nick Wood Head / Assistant / Senior professional 2008 – current & 1988 - 1998
Matty Hayward Senior professional 1987 - 1990
Ivan Ronaldson (son of Chris and Lesley) Unofficial Assistant c1984 - 1994
Mike Gooding Trainee professional 1983
Lachlan Deuchar Senior professional 1981 - 1987
Wayne Davies Senior professional 1981
Alistair Curley Assistant 1980 - 1981
Rob Bartlett Assistant 1979 - 1980
Lesley Ronaldson Senior professional 1979 – current
Chris Ronaldson Head professional 1979 - 2007
Derek Barrett Head professional 1973 - 1979
Leslie Keeble Head professional 1958 - 1972
Arthur Ashford Head professional 1932 - 1957
Harold White (son of Alfred) Assistant c1906 - 1932
John White (nephew of Tom) Assistant 1890 - 1906
John McCann Assistant 1908 - 1910 & 1885 - 1890
Stanley Lambert (son of William) Assistant 1883 - 1884
Alfred White (son of Tom) Head professional / Assistant 1910 - 1932 & 1880 - 1883
Tom White Head professional 1880 - 1910
Edward (Ted) Johnson Assistant 1867 - c1878
William Lambert (brother of George) Head marker 1869 - 1880
George Lambert Head marker 1867 - 1868
Henry John Case (son of Henry) Assistant 1884 & c1863 - 1867
Thomas Stone Assistant 1850 - 1859
John Nightingale Head marker 1864 - 1867
Henry Case (son of John) Head marker 1848 - 1864
Joseph Case (cousin of John) Assistant c1843 - 1849
John Case Head marker c1820 - 1848

Masters

Before the club was formed, in 1818, tennis was under the control of the monarch who appointed a "Master of the King’s (or Queen’s) Tennis Courts" to run the courts on a day-to-day basis.

Some of these Masters taught the game while others – like the last, Major William Beresford, who had been appointed in 1815 (before the club was formed) and had somehow managed to retain the position until his death in 1883 – remained aloof. The two Webbs on the other hand also taught tennis, as did Anthony Ansley who is shown by surviving records to have been Henry VIII's professional in the years 1528 – 32 (and possibly for a longer period), and may have been the first Master of the King's Tennis Courts.

Gedeon Lozier (a Master in 17th century) built the court at St. James's Palace for the Prince of Wales (later Charles I).

All of the Masters from John Webb onwards had the use of the Keeper’s House; now the club rooms and accommodation for the head professional.

Name Tenure
William Beresford 1815 - 1883
Charles Meynell 1791 - 1815
William Chetwynd 1764 - 1765
Richard Beresford 1765 - 1791
1762 - 1764
Charles Fitzroy 1728 - 1762
Thomas Chaplin 1708 - 1728
Horatio Moore 1697 - 1708
Henry Villiers 1689-1697
Thomas Cooke 1660 - 1689
Ralph Bird 1656 - 1660
John Webb
(jointly with Gedeon Lozier until 1631)
c1621 - 1656
Jehu Webb 1604 - c1621
Edward Stone 1591 - 1604
William Hope 1584 - 1591
Thomas Johns 1543 - 1584
Oliver Kelly c1540 - 1543

General Information

The Royal Tennis Court is a private members' club. The club is constituted as a private company limited by guarantee. All members of the club are automatically members of the registered company. The club is run by a Board of Directors elected by the members.

Comfortable Club Rooms, including a dining room with kitchen facilities and a secluded walled garden, are available to members and guests. The club rooms are available for hire by members. The club has an active policy of arranging a number of social events throughout the year. Day-to-day tennis activities at the club are arranged by the Head Professional and his assistants. The professional team arranges a wide range of tournaments to suit all playing standards.

Court Bookings and Fees

All court bookings are made though the professionals. Members may make up to a maximum of three court bookings ahead. In the case of full members, at least one of these bookings must be off-peak.

Cancellations must be notified to the professionals by no later than mid-day two days before the day of the booking, eg on the 1st if your booking is on the 3rd. Failure to do so will result in the member concerned being liable for the relevant court fee.

The professionals will use their best endeavours to secure an opponent for any singles booking. In the event that they are unable to do so they will notify the member concerned as quickly as possible. In the case of last-minute cancellations or "no-shows" the professionals will usually offer to stand-in and play in lieu of an opponent (chargeable to the offending member).

Unless the players agree in advance to the contrary, the results of all singles matches will be recorded on Real Tennis Online and count for handicapping purposes. The professionals will usually mark for the last ten minutes of each game. If they are requested and available, the professionals will also mark for the whole of a booking, for a fee.

Doubles court fees are lower for each player, and juniors enjoy an overall discount for both singles and doubles. There is also a small saving if the lights are not used. Members' guests pay an additional fee (again reduced for juniors).

Please contact the professionals for up-to-date details of the current fees.

Rules and Etiquette

All members, guests and visitors are required to comply with the club rules at all times, and also with the etiquette and rules of tennis. The following should be observed in particular:

  • All players should arrive at the court in plenty of time to be ready to play promptly. Avoidable late arrival is discourteous and disruptive to the other player(s).
  • All players must wear recognised tennis clothing on court, which must be predominantly white. The only exception is tracksuits during warm-up.
  • All members should keep the club rooms tidy. Please use the changing rooms for changing and sports bags.
  • All players should obey tennis etiquette while on court, eg salute each other at the start of each match, and, when changing ends allow the player at the hazard end to move to the service end first.
  • Mobile phones must remain switched off at all times in the environs of the court.
  • Please be quiet while in the dedans and generally considerate to those on court. When the court is closed to the public, out of courtesy to the players, please wait until the players change ends before walking alongside the court.
  • Forcing for the dedans from in front of hazard second gallery is deemed dangerous.
  • The Royal Tennis Court has a proud tradition of maintaining the highest standards of behaviour and sportsmanship on and off the court. Should a member fail to uphold these standards the Board retains the right to review their membership.

Car Parking and Entry

By agreement with Hampton Court Palace, those playing are allowed to park their cars in the main palace car park free of charge. To prevent abuse of this arrangement, the car park attendants may ask members to give their names, so that these may be checked against a list provided by the professionals. Entry to the court is via Tennis Court Lane (when players are usually required to undergo a name check at the security barrier).

Support the Game

As part of its strategy for supporting the game, it is the club's policy to encourage members to join the Tennis and Rackets Association and the Ladies Real Tennis Association. Ask the professionals for details, or contact the T&RA at:

The Queen's Club
Palliser Road
London
W14 9EQ

and the LRTA at:

White Cottage
31, Victoria Avenue
Hayling Island
Hants
PO11 9AJ


Notes for Visiting Match Managers

Before your visit

Due to security procedures at Hampton Court Palace (HCP), you need to give the names of all players and guests to the RTC match manager in the week before the match. The list will passed on to HCP security who will use it as a reference when allowing entry to the court via Tennis Court Lane.

Also, please remember to let the RTC match manager know how many people will require lunch and whether any have special dietary requirements.

Getting to Hampton Court Palace

See the RTC Home page for address and telephone numbers, and the HCP Visit Us page for directions and more general Palace information.

Parking

Visiting players and guests can use the main public car park within HCP if there is space. The entrance is via the main gate immediately on the north side of Hampton Court Bridge. If the main gate is shut then you can drive up to it and the security guards will open it and let you in if you tell them that you are visiting to play tennis.

Visitors are able to use the car park without paying by driving up to the exit barrier as normal, pressing the buzzer, and explaining that they have been playing at RTC. HCP security will then open the barrier.

If the car park is full then you will have to use one of the public car parks at Hampton Court station or in Bushy Park, or find a space in the limited on-street parking nearby.

Getting to the court

Entrance is via Tennis Court Lane the road that runs along the left hand side of the Palace when viewed from the main, front entrance.

Go through the security barrier, where the guards will have your name on a list. Continue to the very end of the lane and go through the left hand archway facing you. Go through two sets of doors and you will arrive at the court. The club rooms are at the far end of the court, behind the dedans.

There are male and female changing rooms, both of which have showers. Tourists and other visitors to HCP are free to watch from behind the hazard and service galleries during British Summer Time. Because of this both changing rooms have security locks that require a numeric code. The code will be given to playing visitors on the day. We do not provide towels, and recommend that valuables are not left in the changing rooms.

Access to the palace

Access to the tennis court gives you free access to the HCP Gardens, but does not give you free access to any other areas of HCP. Visitors wishing to visit the other parts of the Palace will need to buy a ticket from the ticket booth near the main entrance.

Match fees

The cost of the each match will be determined by the RTC match manager on a per match basis, depending as it does on final numbers for lunch. Cost per player (assuming 1 hour of tennis) is normally between £12 and £20. This excludes drinks which are bought and paid for ad hoc.

Please note that the match fees need to be paid in cash on the day.

We hope you have an enjoyable day with us at the Royal Tennis Court at Hampton Court Palace!


Tennis Events and Club Rooms

The game of Real Tennis is the forerunner of all racket sports and has been closely associated with Henry VIII and Hampton Court Palace since 1530. The Royal Tennis Court, its Club Rooms, and their adjoining gardens and tennis court, are available for occasional private hire. They combine to present a most attractive, unusual and exclusive venue within the impressive ambience of the palace.

The Club Rooms occupy the whole ground floor of a Georgian house and benefit from classic proportions and elegant decoration.

The lounge reflects a traditional private club room atmosphere with views over the famous formal gardens of the East Front. It is ideal for receptions or intimate seminars. The lounge connects directly to the Court viewing area (the Dedans) which has seating for up to 40 people.

The Dining Room can be set for a formal dinner for up to 16 persons or with use of the connecting lounge is perfect for a fork buffet for up to 50 people. The Dining Room is served by two adjacent, well equipped kitchens.

The Club Rooms have access to a large, secluded lawn with flower borders and mature trees all enclosed by Tudor walls and dominated by the Tudor aspects of the palace. The Club Rooms have access to a large, secluded lawn with flower borders and mature trees all enclosed by Tudor walls and dominated by the Tudor aspects of the palace. The private garden can easily accommodate marquees and is sure to offer a memorable venue for your event.

Opened in 1994 by H.R.H. The Prince Edward, there is only limited availability of these private rooms. For further details and to arrange a personal visit please contact:

Nick Wood
Function Coordinator
Royal Tennis Court
69 Hampton Court Palace
Surrey KT8 9AU

Telephone: +44 (0)20 8977 3015

Email: nick.wood@royaltenniscourt.com