Petone Tennis Club formed in 1893 in the Hutt Valley, starting with only one grass court in Hutt Road. In 1894 there were just 16 members and the Club hired the Grand National Hotel’s grass court for matches. The grass tennis court at the Hotel in the 1880s helped tennis become popular in Petone. (The Hotel was known also as the Marine Retreat Hotel and Valentine’s Hotel).
In 1895 the Club leased land in Britannia Street and created four grass courts. The Tennis Club built a pavilion at the cost of 25 pounds. In a cost-cutting measure three sheep were hired from the Gear Meat Company to eat down the grass in the off season. In 1896 the Petone (Lawn) Tennis Club affiliated with the Wellington Tennis Association, becoming one of the first Tennis Clubs established in the Wellington region.
In 1902 the Club raised 925 pounds to buy the land for grass courts in Britannia Street. In 1913 they changed the grass courts to asphalt.
New clubrooms in Britannia Street opened in 1929. The building cost over 1,000 pounds to build and included “a commodious social hall” on the top storey, with dressing rooms, showers … included on the ground floor. Evening Post, 2 October 1929. Papers Past (natlib.govt.nz)
The next move was to its current location of 26 Bouverie Street, Petone.
Petone Tennis Club has boasted several prestigious tennis players. Nancy Curtis won several NZ tennis championship competitions in the 1920s and was also the New South Wales ladies single champion in 1921. Nancy married Petone’s town clerk Walter Sturman in 1924 and retired from playing tennis.
Dulcie Nicholls was the youngest of a family who excelled at sports. Three of her older brothers were All Blacks. Dulcie attended Petone West School and also Wellington Girls’ School.
In 1930 Dulcie was described as a “sparkling-eyed champion singles player of NZ”.
Dulcie Nicholls married Francis Gallagher in 1938 and retired from tennis. Both Dulcie and Nancy have plaques on Jackson Street, Petone, for the “Walk of Champions”. Tour Petone – Jackson Street Programme.
Find out more about Petone Tennis Club and its’ 130th Anniversary celebrations. Petone Tennis Club | Facebook