T&RA Real Tennis Awards 2021
Paul Weaver was awarded volunteer of the year.
Bertie Vallet was awarded the best junior performance award.
Chris Ronaldson was presented with a lifetime achievement award.
David Watson, the retiring T&RA Chairman, was on hand to commemorate the volunteer of the Year, T&RA Director of Junior Tennis, Paul Weaver, who managed to hold numerous events, including the Junior British Open, during the infrequent breaks in the lockdown. Paul has run this event for the last 21 years. Next was a lifetime achievement award to Chris Ronaldson (Radley/Bristol) who has spend an astonishing 50 years in service to the game. During this time, he has revived courts and clubs and was instrumental behind the Radley Court built to 2008. He was also the Open Champion between 1980 and 1985.
Finally, David Watson presented the famous Open trophy to John Lumley, another wonderful achievement in his reasonably short career to date; his name on this this trophy for the first time. John’s proud family were all in support including his mother, Penny a former ladies Tennis world champion, and sister Tara, the current world doubles champion in both Tennis and Rackets.
T&RA Chairman, David Watson, first presented the Grays Junior of the Year award to Bertie Vallat (Queen’s) following his own successful year winning the Under 16 Open Championship in the Summer. Then thanks to the tournament organisers, Alistair Lumsden and Ben Ronaldson, together with the numerous volunteers who had made the event happen, ably led by Jess Garside. Thanks were also due to the Patrons and the T&RA for their financial backing, and Queen’s Club for providing the venue. The Doubles salver was then presented to winners, Fahey and Howell, who reiterated how wonderful it was to be back on court, and being able to play in front of Tennis-starved galleries once again.
"I believe it is the first such - a lifetime achievement award - is being presented to an individual who in my view has done more to shape and enhance the future of Real tennis in this country, and internationally, than any other individual. Chris Ronaldson was a great world champion between 1981 and 1987 - a proud and impressive achievement - but it is not primarily for this that I bestow this award. Earlier this year Chris completed 50 years as a club professional. I can state with complete confidence that he has transformed and revolutionised every club he has worked at. His drive, work ethic and commitment are unparalleled and he has built thriving new clubs from scratch just as he has re-energised those suffering troubled times. From the start of his career when he was drawn from Oxford to launch the new 2 court Melbourne facility, returning back to the U.K. to Troon where he and Les generated almost 90 hours of play in a week and then to Hampton Court where the court was only getting eight or nine hours of play a week and now regularly exceed 100 hours. He and Les brought life and energy to a club covered in dust and cobwebs and I vividly remember the procession of future stars who came to work and learn their craft at the feet of the master. More recently on to Radley to build a whole new membership and activity from zero-base to it becoming one of the most active courts in the country. And most recently Bristol where he and Maggie are doing an amazing job to renew and revitalise this great facility. Chris has always been ready to offer his advice and expertise to all who have sought it but he has never courted recognition or reward for all that he has done. He and Les ran the British junior tournament for many years, he was a driving force behind the RTO handicap system and has led many other quiet programs that could easily have earned him the volunteer of the year award. His achievements are too numerous to mention.!
This trophy takes the form of a handcrafted racket made by his friend Graham Highland and I know he will treasure it and the grateful recognition that goes alongside it.
The plaque inscription says “Presented by the T&RA to Chris Ronaldson in appreciation of a lifetime of selfless dedication to Real Tennis”
Christ Ronaldson it is my great pleasure to present you with this lifetime achievement award.." David Watson, Chairman of the T&RA.