Mike McMurrugh, the legend, passed away 7th August.
Mike McMurrugh, who died on 7 August 2023, was a dominant figure within amateur Tennis in this country, especially through the 1990’s.
In the days before we all had separate doubles handicaps, Mike was perhaps the most obvious example of a player who performed notably better at the four handed game relative to his (singles) handicap. He was a decent singles player, but no better than about 9 handicap, but readily held his own against much better players on the doubles court, where his value was easily low single figures.
Mike and I won the Amateur Doubles together on four occasions in the 1990’s. His best performances, however, were all away from home – in the Bathurst Cups of 1988 (Ballarat), 1989 (Philadelphia), 1992 (Bordeaux) and 1994 (Newport). He and I were unbeaten through these four renewals, and he played tremendously well on each occasion. Our opponents variously included Ted Cockram, Mike Happell, Morris Clothier and Tim Chisholm, all of whom had won or would win national Open Doubles championships, let alone Amateur ones, yet Mike was by no means outclassed or found out. He was a very big man, both tall and wide, and commensurately strong. I recall him often defending the grille in Newport, standing face on to the net and our opponents, yet still able to play a strong boasted backhand volley to great effect. But more than his tennis strokes and shots, he was a very canny doubles player, who rarely played the wrong shot or made a strategic error.
I last saw Mike at the Bathurst 100 dinner which I organised in March this year. It was obvious that he was in poor health and that it had been an effort for him to attend, but none of us enjoyed the reunion more than he did.
Mike was an exceptionally disputatious man, who found it easy to fall out with people, but he had many fine qualities, which I knew to include fierce loyalty and kindness. We had a lot of fun together, both on court and off, which I will not forget.
Written by Julian Snow
After suffering from a variety of health problems, Mike succumbed to a heart attack on Monday the 9th August.
His wonderful wife Sue was with him, as was Mark [chairman of Seacourt ] his eldest son. He also leaves two lovely talented daughters, Kate and Anna.
After the Mike/ Julian Snow partnership broke up, Mike and I teamed up and won numerous over 40, 50 and 60's World Masters and British national events. The pairing, albeit at a lower standard, was similar, with Mike blasting away at the front, and me running around the back. Our first surprising result was the beating of Frank Willis and David Cull in the over 40's Open final.
As mentioned, he could get very excited on court particularly over questionable marking decisions. However, one reason we had so many enjoyable matches was that during the time we played together he never once lost his cool! There was lots a banter and humour especially as he often laughed at himself.
On one famous occasion he was playing a handicap doubles at Hobart with his old friend Stephen Sayer, one of their opponents dominated his own partner to such an extent that the poor chap hardly hit a ball. Critical comments were made, the dominating player got very indignant and aggressive, and Mike ended up throwing him down the corridor scattering dozens of chairs along the way. Repercussions were expected, but low and behold the Australian hosts applauded Mike's actions.
He was particularly successful and popular in Australia. Ted Cockram once remarked that he was the finest player in front of the grill that he had ever seen.
Unfortunately Mike had to stop playing some years ago owing to his diabetes causing his sight to deteriorate which was a great disappointment.
So we say goodbye to this complex, and talented personality.
Sincere condolences to Sue, Mark ,Kate and Anna
Written by John Ward