An outdoor version of tennis established in England in 1874 was named “Lawn Tennis” to distinguish it from the indoor version of the game on which it was based.
Lawn tennis was played on any level surface be it grass, soil or asphalt and had arrived in Walcha by the 1880s.
The Armidale Express of September 22, 1882 reported: “It is interesting to learn that a lawn tennis club has been in existence at Walcha for a considerable time. They play almost every Saturday afternoon”.
The Express of July 15, 1892, announced the formation of a second club saying: “A new lawn tennis club has been formed at Walcha, and they had their first meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Their ground is at the rear of the Royal Hotel.”
The Walcha Lawn Tennis Club decided a its AGM of November 1895 “to levy only the ordinary subscription this year as the club does not propose to lay down a second asphalt court at present. The work of improving the surface of the existing court will be put in hand at once.”
The Apsley Lawn Tennis Club was formed at a meeting held at the Apsley Hotel in September 1899 and played on a court at the Commercial Bank premises in Fitzroy Street, where the Ex-Services Club is now.
The Walcha Witness of May 27, 1905, reported: “The members of the Walcha Lawn Tennis Club have a little house at the showground where they keep their various supplies. Some person broke into the place recently and stole tennis balls, two dozen cups and saucers and a few other articles.”
The Armidale Chronicle of September 9, 1903 described a typical outing saying: “A party of twelve left Armidale on Friday afternoon at 4pm to play a return match on the Walcha courts.
“Mr Hoguet’s splendid four-in-hand speedily bridged the distance from Armidale to Uralla, where the party dined at Murray’s Great Northern Hotel. A further four hours drive landed the group at the Apsley Hotel at 11pm.
“Play began at 9.30am on Saturday morning where our ladies came home with flying colours, having played throughout undefeated.”