Our thanks to Jean Smith
For those of you who knew Jean you have long since realised the debt we owe her for the development of tennis in Cornwall throughout the decades of the sixties, seventies and eighties. Those members who did not have the pleasure of knowing this special lady I will in some small way try to describe her input to tennis especially Perran Tennis or Perranporth Lawn Tennis Club as it was then.
Jean was a catalyst not only in junior tennis in Cornwall, but badminton and hockey. During the 1960’s and 1970’s she ran, together with Graham Hunt the Junior Cornwall Grass Court Championships held at our Club. These events were truly massive with sections for Under 12’s, 14’s, 16’s and 18’s girls and boys, singles and doubles. They attracted an attendance of between one and two hundred players each year. It was not just the running of the events but the tireless encouragement of all players that I remember.
Personally she introduced me to the game by inviting me to become a junior member at Redruth Tennis Club. She ran the junior nights which were always well attended. I was fortunate that Jean gave me opportunities to play with other county players at the Club; just at under 14 level there were four boys who each represented Cornwall. Later I was privileged to play at Torquay at regional level all down to Jean. Jean also wrote references so I could attend coaching courses and gain qualifications.
This was not the exception but, the norm for Jean. Chris Dennis another Perran Tennis member, also a junior at Redruth and later a senior player was introduced to the game by Jean and has fond memories of those days. We of course have Margaret and Gill as members – Jean’s nieces who both were excellent tennis players in their own right, again down to Jean.
Chris, myself, John and Judy Manley attended her funeral last Wednesday. I am sure that all of us would like to recognise the great work and enthusiasm of Jean and hope in some small way we may continue this legacy through the development of Perran Tennis as a “Club for the Community”.
(Ex-Junior Redruth and Perranporth Tennis Clubs)