“Life is like a game of tennis. The player who serves well seldom loses” – unknown.
In 1929, Shiplake Tennis & Social Club was formed with 30 members and the construction of two grass courts in the current location behind the Shiplake Memorial Hall. There was also a pavilion and the subscription per year was 5/- (25p!). To celebrate the founding of the Club a “Dance with Orchestra” was held for 59 people.
Due to World War II, playing activities were suspended in 1942 and it was not until 1950 that the club was re-established with 21 adults and 11 juniors. During the next sixteen years, the membership declined mainly due to the poor condition of the grass courts and bad weather so often making play impossible.
However, three years later the Club was revived by a group of enthusiastic local tennis players with a fund-raising target of £1,800 to convert the grass courts into two hard courts whilst the 50 members temporarily used Shiplake College’s courts. In 1971, two hard courts were constructed costing a total of £2,160 funded by a combination of the Club’s fund raising efforts, members’ donations, a Sport Council grant and a ‘Friends of the Hall’ loan.
For the next twenty five years, the membership continued to increase with playing and social events for adults and juniors provided throughout the year leading for the demand of a third all-weather court which was built in 1996 at a cost of £19,973. By 1999, the membership stood at 238 (159 adults and 79 juniors) and the Annual “Dinner Dance with Live Band” celebrated the Club’s 70th Anniversary.
In 2002, with an increased membership of 343 (including 138 juniors) a waiting list was introduced restricting membership to those living Shiplake and Binfield Heath. Over a period of years, a combination of well-kept courts, an enthusiastic and progressive committee, an all-year round programme of coaching, competitive and social play, had produced a thriving club for all ages and standards of players in the local community. In addition, Shiplake Primary School and Shiplake College were using the courts weekly throughout the summer term.
In November 2004, the new clubhouse was completed, at a cost to the club of £36,800. This was followed a few years later by installation of the floodlights, which has hugely improved playing opportunities, especially in the winter months. The club now has 350 members, with a waiting list, and continues to go from strength to strength.