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Farewell to Adam Phillips

Update Jul 15, 2024
Published Jun 21, 2024

Adam Phillips passed away Wednesday 19th June.

Adam Phillips

It is with great sadness that I share the news that Adam Phillips, Real Tennis Professional and friend has passed away. His career as a Professional and player spanned over four decades at clubs including Cambridge, Canford, Hatfield and Lord's. A huge character who will be sorely missed. Thoughts at this time are with his family and loved ones.

Chris Bray

Adam Phillips loved to be a Real Tennis professional and enjoyed doing his job well.

He was not a champion player, but a good one – I suppose he flirted with a plus handicap at his best. His style of play reflected his personality, as it could best be described as ‘enthusiastic’. He ran around *a lot*, like the Duracell bunny when young, and sweated copiously. His style involved a lot of boasted shots, on both the backhand and forehand sides.

We occasionally played doubles together. One year (2003), admittedly somewhat fortuitously, Adam and I reached the British Open doubles final. Adam was very excited to achieve this. He was realistic enough to recognise that this occasion might be his only experience of a big final and resolved to get the most out of the evening that he could. Harshly, he even barred Krysha, then his girlfriend and subsequently his wife, from coming to watch for fear of distraction. We did not win, of course, but nor did we disgrace ourselves – winning a set against Rob Fahey and Ruaraidh Gunn.

He excelled, however, at other aspects of being a Tennis professional. Two short anecdotes illustrate this.

First, one year we were all at an overseas Open, at a venue perhaps I had better not identify. The home club pros were a pretty hopeless bunch and their slackness extended to a very casual approach to marking the tournament matches. In contradistinction, when it came to Adam’s turn to mark, I think, the singles semi-final, he turned up looking spick and span in proper tennis whites, plus racquet, and produced a display of brisk efficiency. I urged the tournament organiser / club chairman type to haul his dopes out of the pro room so that they could watch and learn how a professional properly conducted himself.

Secondly, in 2004, a young Melbourne friend of mine came to stay with me in London for a month or so. She was an avid Tennis player and wanted to play many of the UK courts. I arranged for her to do so, often as a lesson with the club professional. She reported back that by far the most engaged and engaging lesson she received was from Adam at Lord’s.

When David Cull retired after 45 years as the MCC’s head pro, I encouraged Adam to apply for the vacancy and lobbied the club to appoint him. Happily, this paid off and he got the job. He was the ideal man for the role: conscious of the history of the game and of the MCC yet also able to provide 21st century style service.

My grief and sadness that Adam has died is accentuated and aggravated by the knowledge that his life was recently on the up. He was keen to get back into the game and had applied for the Moreton Morrell job. He last messaged me on 13 June, tragically less than a week before he died, part of which message read: ‘9 weeks this weekend and hitting the gym every day. So, feeling amazing, well not quite but it’s getting better’.

Despite the difficulties of the final years of his life, I shall remember Adam entirely positively. There are few people in ones life one would unhesitatingly trust 100% or would want in the trenches beside you, so to speak, but Adam was one of them.

Julian Snow

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