Dawlish Lawn Tennis Club first played tennis on its present site in the early 1950’s. At that time the facilities consisted of three grass courts and a wooden converted beach hut clubhouse. In the early 1960’s the clubhouse was expanded to three wooden beach huts. During the late 1950s and 1960s there was a thriving Junior Club thanks to then coach, Sylvia Penguelly. From the mid 1970s until the early 1990’s the club was mainly for adults. There were few, if any juniors, and no junior coaching sessions.
In 1992 the Committee, led by the then Chairman John Robberts, realised that sustaining tennis in Dawlish was going to be difficult on three grass courts due mainly to Teignbridge facilitating hockey during the winter on their existing eight tennis courts.
So in 1992, the Club decided to convert to three all-weather courts plus floodlights. This would enable tennis to be played at the Club the whole year round. The cost of this upgrade was £32,000. The project was completed thanks to the hard work and leadership of John Robberts. 1993 saw Teignmouth based twins Robert and Peter Elver take the reins of a dwindling Junior Section after the retirement of their existing coach. The Junior Club at that time consisting of 8 youngsters training for 2 hours on a Saturday morning. The Junior Section of the Club began to rise in dramatic fashion. By the end of 1995, there were over 50 Junior Members.
In 1997 it was obvious that the Clubhouse was on its last legs and with membership rising the Club took the decision to seek lottery funding for a new £100,000 Clubhouse. The project was successfully completed in 2000 thanks to Brian Elver and John Robberts. On the tennis front, the Men’s A team were promoted as Champions into the top flight of the Exeter & District Tennis League. This was after they had been playing in Division 4, three years before. The Junior membership had doubled in two years to over 100.
In 2005 the Club had new state-of-the-art Floodlight Heads installed at a cost of £17,000 followed by replacement electrics the following year.
Having installed drains around part of no.1 court, it then seemed sensible to do the same around the remainder of the courts. Robert Elver organised a working party to carry out the work. Five tons of stones were delivered to fill the new drainage ditches. In 2009 the Junior Club was restructured to four sessions over Saturday and Sunday mornings due to increasing numbers attending. Since 2000 numbers have been in excess of 100 each year.
In 2010 the Club entered another new chapter in its history with a complete re-surfacing of all three hard courts. This involved the existing surface being cleaned, treated and then punched with hundreds of drainage holes. A new layer of modern porous macadam was laid on the current surface and compacted. The colour of the new courts was changed to brick red with green surround
In 2013 Club Coaches Robert and Peter Elver were part of a team of coaches who were joint winners of the 2013 Teignbridge Sports Personality of the Year Award for their contribution to the Teignbridge Devon Games to Inspire Team that competes against the other districts in Devon in an annual event. The brothers managed the Teignbridge Tennis Team every year since its inception in 1999. Pictured with the twins is fellow Club Coach Matt West and Brian Elver, the only four winners of the DLTC Club Championship’s Men’s singles over the last 25 years.
By 2014 the Clubhouse facilities had undergone a transformation with a substantial amount of improvements and redecoration and which has continued through 2015. This included a complete upgrade of all the lighting thanks to the efforts of Tim Bradshaw. The ladies changing room and disabled toilet were given a clear-out and a new lick of paint as was the Clubhouse patio doors which had a change of colour from white to dark green.
On the tennis front, the Club’s Men’s A Team completed a historic season finishing runners-up in the top Division of the Exeter & District League. This was the highest any Dawlish side has finished in the Club’s history, going back to when the league began in 1954. It was an impressive season for the team, captained by Matt West, as they also recorded a Club record 80 points total in the top flight. Pictured is the SA@W sponsored Dawlish Men’s A Team (left to right) Robert Elver, Peter Elver, Matt West (Captain), Jamie Surman
Club Coaches Robert and Peter won the Clubs first County title claiming the men’s over 40’s doubles title at the County Championships held at Torquay Tennis Club. The twins defeated the top seeds in a very exciting final 6-4 6-3.
Robert Elver came second in the Coach/Manager of the Year category at the 2014 Teignbridge Sports Personality Awards and joint runner up in the Services to Sport Category at the Devon Awards the same year.
2015 saw the resolution of a longstanding safety issue with the raising of the Clubs fencing that ran alongside the hockey pitch. For many years both the hockey and tennis club were seeking some sort of solution and in August it finally arrived.
On the playing side, the Club’s senior membership rose to an impressive 87 thanks mainly to the drive and commitment of new chair lady Kim Sadler and the Club’s coaching team. The Club also secured various sponsorship deals to assist with the playing side and continued improvements of the facilities.
The Club also achieved LTA Tennismark Accreditation. Tennismark and Tennismark+ is the tennis-specific version of the Clubmark best practice accreditation implemented by Sport England.
2015 was the year the club launched its own website as Jake Broom utilised his impressive IT skills.
In January 2016 the Club saw further improvements to its facility with the replacement of the old patio window shutters with new electric shutters and with it a change of colour from white to dark green to fit in better with the Club colours of green and yellow. There was also a new entrance gate that replaced the old rusty one, and its rather unsightly metal grill (which was required to stop balls going through the bars!).
2016 saw the completion of a two-year facilities improvement programme under the leadership of then chairlady Kim Sadler and the help of the dedication and commitment towards fundraising by Tim Bradshaw. The Club raised £5,500 which went towards the electric shutters and new carpet.
2016 saw the club launch it’s first ever official Club logo. Club member Jane Hirst designed the tennis racket based logo. The logo is used on all merchandising and advertising of the club.
In 2017 the Club continued to develop its use of technology to market and advertise its activities. The Club’s Facebook Group page reached 120 members, and after going live in 2016 the Website reached the 2000 hits milestone. The Club also became a BBC partner organisation so was able to advertise “open to the public” events run at the Club.
By 2017 the Club was hosting several large annual events where many spectators attended. It was decided that a seating area would be a great idea, creating additional space for spectators to sit and watch the tennis. With the help and dedication of a small group of members, the idea became a reality. Robert Elver, Robert Kershaw, Toby Broom, and Simon Broom spent many hours removing earth from the side of Court One. Paul Halfyard was the skilled tradesman who spent several weekends working on the support wall, and concrete floor, with great assistance from Jason Hatherley and Robert Elver.
At the end of 2017, it was decided that new wooden boards around Court Three were required. Thanks to the expertise and hard work of Toby Broom, Simon Broom, and Robert Elver the work was completed over the space of a few weekends. The improvements, which saw new tougher wooden boards replace the old rotten boards, will ensure the integrity of the stone chipping soakaway and fence for many years to come. Robert Elver and Anthony Russell carried out work to improve the drainage around all three courts. Weed retention liner was put down under all the stone chippings and another two tons of stones added on top.
In May 2018 the Club had their three courts cleaned and repainted at a cost of £5,800. The project, managed by Robert Elver was completed in three days.