John Henry Page

02 May 2014

28 January 1919 to 27 April 2014

It is with great sadness that the T&RA reports that John Page died on Sunday 27th April aged 95. The thoughts of the Association are with his wife Carol, his daughter Jo and son Andrew. John was a founder member of Petworth House Tennis Club when it was formed in 1960 and the whole family have been loyal supporters of the Club for many years.

John PageJohn Page servingJohn learnt Real Tennis at Canford School, where as a natural lawn tennis player from boyhood he quickly developed a love of the game and went on to play first string. He then went to Cambridge University where he played number one for two years before the War and one year afterwards, beating Lord Aberdare (a future amateur champion) in the 1947 Varsity Match. He later became one of the best amateur players in the country, regularly reaching the latter stages of the Amateur Singles and MCC Prizes in the following decade.

At Petworth he was for many years the leading player of the Club after Andy Dawson lured him back to the game following the re-opening of the court in 1960, recording a number of notable wins in Club matches over the likes of Dick Bridgeman, Tom Pugh and Charles Swallow. In 1982 he introduced Andrew (aged 16), and a few years later Jo to the game. Andrew followed in his father’s footsteps by also becoming a leading amateur, representing Britain in the Bathurst Cup and reaching the final of the Amateur Singles against Julian Snow, and Jo became one of the leading lady players, reaching the final of the Ladies Australian Open.

In 1995 John introduced an Under 24 Level Singles tournament, donating the “Page Cup” to encourage the Club’s talented young players to keep playing after school and university. During its early years John presented the Page Cup each year; more recently Carol has kindly presented it. This year it was won for the fourth time by Charlie Braham, the country’s leading Under 18 player.

Andrew Page fondly recalled his father at a speech he gave during PHTC's 50-year re-opening celebrations in 2010:

"It was he who taught me the game, rolling balls off Petworth’s side penthouse when I was 16, and showing me how to cut them down.  I tried to copy his elegant style.  We enjoyed many years competing in Fathers and Sons at Leamington. After 10 years of attempts, including match points against the Males, we finally won it when Father was 78 years old, the oldest father in the event by more than a decade.  He retired from competitive tennis that day – a day which will be forever etched with pride in my memory, for the sheer courage and tenacity he showed."

John’s funeral will take place at 2.30pm on Wednesday 14th May at St Margaret's Church, Warnham (near Horsham).

Paul Danby kindly added a note:

Tennis after the Second World War was very much in the doldrums. Clubs and courts were lost in Brighton and Knightsbridge; many private courts out of use and the buildings utilised/converted for other purposes. However, there was immense enthusiasm amongst the few good players to keep the sport alive.

They arranged matches given half a chance in those courts still in use, or just turned up and played with anyone. John Page was one, others were Lord (Maurice) Aberdare, Lord (Charles) Cullen, Dick Bridgman, John Clench, David Warburg, Maurice Baring, Michael Pugh, Billy Ross-Skinner to mention a few.

Their go anywhere for a game attitude did so much to encourage the few struggling courts and clubs.

John used to turn up for Seacourt Sunday morning club tennis and then probably play a singles with Tommy Workman or Francis Snell whenever he could get leave of absence from School. Probably a hundred mile round trip, he was one of the players that kept the sport alive.

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