Competitive Tennis

The Club affiliated in its very early days to the Wellington Lawn Tennis Association (WLTA). The minutes of a meeting held on 30th July 1907 disclose, for example, that a team was to be entered in the Pennant Matches. Later, in 1910 and in 1911, mention is made of the entry of a men's team in D. Grade competition and a ladies' team in the C. Grade.

These teams seem to have met with a good measure of success, since in 1911, the men’s team won its grade without losing a match whilst the ladies' team reached the finals of its competition.  After the First World War,  entries in the W.L.T.A.  interclub contests were resumed, the Club fielding one men's team and one ladies' team in the Junior grade. A few years later, the practice of entering teams in these competitions was discontinued and it was not until the formation of the District Sub-Association in 1936, that the Club again took part in organised interclub contests.

Further opportunity for competitive play was provided by the establishment of Club singles ladders, which were first drawn at the beginning of the 1910/11 season and have ever since been a regular feature of the Club's organisation. Club doubles competitions were also conducted annually and special one-day tournaments arranged at intervals.

Among the new members continually joining the Club were many players of more than average calibre and as a consequence, competition on the ladders,  in Club events and for positions in Club teams became keener.  The general standard of Club play was thereby raised and the trend in this direction persisted until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.

Post the was, interest of members in the game was again heightened and as one means of improving their tennis, some members conceived the idea of entering in the annual tournaments conducted by the Wellington Lawn Tennis Association. That they were capable of acquitting themselves creditably in those tournaments is evidenced by the fact that in 1939 entrants from the Club in the Wellington Lawn Tennis Association Christmas Tournament succeeded in carrying off 7 events amongst them in the B. and C. Grade championships. Probably few members and former members are aware also that one of our leading players of this period qualified after the war to enter for the Wimbledon Tournament and did actually compete in that famous meeting. That player was Mr A.E. Henderson who joined the Club in 1936, remaining with the Club until he went overseas in 1941. It is no exaggeration to say that the foundation, at least, of his game was built up during his years of membership of the Club.

Our own Club, from its long experience, recognised clearly the advantages from organisation of the game on a District basis. From the point of view purely of self-interest, it might have been to the advantage of the Club to remain with the Wellington Lawn Tennis Association. But it was felt that tennis generally in the District had developed to such an extent that more good to all Clubs in the area would be best served, by the formation of a local Sub-Association, affiliated to the Wellington Lawn Tennis Association. Our Club therefore approached the other clubs in the District with this suggestion. The reception was sufficiently encouraging to warrant implementing the proposal and the outcome was the formation in 1936 of the Northern Wellington Lawn Tennis Sub-Association, comprising originally 6 clubs and taking in a District extending from Makara to Paekakariki. 

Throughout this period, the Club continued to enter teams regularly in the interclub competitions organised by the District Sub-Association and in the 1951/52 season it won the B. Grade Championship. Large contingents of members entered each year in the Sub-Association's Easter Tournament and many successes in winning various events have been registered by them.  

The position changed in 1978 when it was considered that a better service to tennis would accrue if the Sub-Association became a separate Association. This move was agreed by the Wellington body and we now have a regional organisation comprising Wellington, the Hutt Valley and the Kapi Mana Tennis Associations.

The Club has had a long association with the Newlands Tennis Club and both Clubs have helped each other in many ways.  Friendly games have been played between teams from the Clubs and these have been keenly contested. As a symbol of perpetuating this friendly rivalry, Mr. Slater of Newlands, donated a shield, called the Slater Shield, for annual competition between the Clubs. The records show that Johnsonville won it the first time it was contested, (1954), and it was presented at the very successful dance run by the Newlands Club in the Newlands Hall.

Home and away matches were played each year for a number of years with the Levin Club, and these were very pleasant outings for the members who participated. Similar matches were played with the Salamanca Club in Wellington. It is interesting to note that the Salamanca courts had a very short run back, and many Johnsonville players were caught climbing the netting at the back of the courts in an endeavour to retrieve a lobbed ball - the Salamanca players were past masters at the lob and we Johnsonville players learnt the hard way. They also had several left handed players who used the local knowledge to the utmost. The boot was on the other foot when they came to Johnsonville when they played on our grass courts.  A number of Salamanca players were known to go home after the games with a strange shade of green on their tennis gear.

Friendly games were also played against the Te Rama Club in Kilbirnie for a number of years and these were pleasant outings. It is hoped that in future years the Club is able to revive friendly games with other clubs as it all adds to the conviviality of the game and enables members to engage with other players in a non-competitive atmosphere.