Andrew Kemp – Honorary Life Member – Hobart Real Tennis Club

In December last year, the Hobart members awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Club to Andrew Kemp. This event was celebrated at the President’s Cup dinner on Saturday 21 August.

Owen Guest, the President of the Royal Melbourne Tennis Club, paid tribute to Andrew Kemp’s contribution to tennis.

John Ramsay HRTC President read the citation on the certificate presented to Andrew.

It recorded the award –

For outstanding services to the Club as

Member, Committee Member, President and Patron

and for his contribution to the development of the game of real tennis in Australia, his fostering and promotion of our association with the Royal Melbourne Tennis Club, for his representation of the Hobart Club in Australia and overseas and for his dedication and generous support to the maintenance of the Club buildings and the display and recording of Club history.

Alistair Curley, former Hobart President and also an honorary life member of Hobart paid tribute to Andrew in a speech which is set below.


I am very pleased to be given this opportunity to say something about Andrew’s contribution to the Hobart Real Tennis Club. As such, tonight is a very important occasion in our club’s history.

Before I go on, Mary McArthur, a former President of the club, can’t be here tonight but she contacted me from New York today to ask me to pass on her apologies and best wishes to you. She said that you had been a great source of advice to her as President, as you were to so many Presidents, and she instructed me to say that she had always been a secret admirer!

Andrew Kemp joined the Hobart Tennis Club in 1961 and he has been playing tennis ever since. On 18 February next year, Andrew will celebrate fifty years’ membership. He is without doubt our club’s longest member!

He has served this club with distinction as a member, tennis player, committeeman, President and now Patron. In footballing terms, he is without doubt the club’s No 1 ticket holder!

In thinking over the past few weeks about Andrew’s contribution, what struck me first were the people I could no longer ask, like Jerry Walters, Duncan McDougall and Jim Cartledge. All people whose company Andrew enjoyed in our club over so many years, not least for The Doyens’ Doubles on Wednesdays at 6pm for the best part of forty years. One of the great joys of our game is the friendships we develop and Andrew, Tony Holmes (who is also here tonight), Jim, Jerry and Duncan developed a lifelong deep friendship over those weekly games of tennis, followed by the obligatory beers every Wednesday night. And woe betide the pro who did not have the requisite number of Pale Ale long necks in the fridge to quench their post match thirst, and of course the suitable number of whisky miniatures for Tony.

But if Jim, Duncan and Jerry were still with us, they would be so pleased that Andrew is receiving this recognition tonight.

AGK is passionate about the good health of the club, and no one has done more over these fifty years to ensure the club survived and thrived.

Andrew was my first President as a new young club pro, and he summed up my duties in one carefully delivered message in the men’s change room! “Clean court, tightly sewn balls, and she’ll be right!” And that’s pretty much Andrew’s secret, keep it simple and get it done.

He led our development in 2001, as ever ensuring we kept the club safe in terms of debt, but also very much looking to the future.

Since he became our Patron, he has also become our historian, and knows more about the rich history of the club than anyone.

The Percy Finch is our most important club match. Melbourne is our most important club relationship. But for over thirty years, in the middle of the 20th century, our two clubs did not speak. The reasons are for another time, but the first Percy Finch match in 1965 was a pivotal turning point for both clubs. Andrew, along with George Limb and Richard Allen, was elemental in ending the Cold War and those Originals, those three men (and others) re-ignited what was and remains our close relationship with RMTC. It is not too much to say that they saved Australian real tennis. And I am delighted that so many former Melbourne Presidents are here tonight to share this occasion.

In 1974, when RMTC opened its new courts in Sherwood St, Andrew was a key organizer of our club’s first international tournament at the same time, and from then on, he assiduously built relations overseas, to ensure that Hobart became a firm part of the international tennis scene. He knew that we had to be part of the world scene if our club was to grow. And he was one of the first to appreciate that we also needed to be part of the world professional circuit (he remembered those years without a pro and how hard it had been to keep the cub going with no pro).

Despite all these achievements for our club, Andrew has always been a very keen player. He started playing in 1961 and became Class Two Champion in 1964, and then Class Two Doubles Champion with Tony Holmes in 1978 and 79. And in 1988 he returned to the winners’ circle again as Class Three Champion.

He was a canny player, he had clearly thought about the game and excelled in doubles, including a winning Percy Finch rubber against George Limb and Robyn Byrne in 1969. I have also learned over the years that, like so many of us, he has a deep love of the game.

A few months ago, Andrew told me of how much he had enjoyed watching the last World Championship in Melbourne, and the privilege he felt in witnessing what was probably some of Rob Fahey’s best tennis in many years.

Speaking of Rob, he sends his apologies for being unable to be here tonight but he asked me share this message.

“Andrew Kemp, without doubt, you have the greatest railroad look-alike service in the World!! As a young pro, I witnessed dozens of unsuspecting players move towards the side-wall to return your railroad, only to be legged by this cunning imposter of a serve which bounced cat-like back over their heads into the middle of the court !”

Rob goes on. “Being the greatest in the world is something I know about, and being the greatest in the world at something is a terrific achievement, Andrew. However, I remember you most for achieving something that all men aspire to but few men achieve, being a 5 who married a 10!!

Congratulations Andrew on Honorary Life Membership of the greatest tennis club in the world” – Rob Fahey.

Now Robert brings us to ELIZABETH!

Andrew has been loyally supported by Elizabeth over the years, billeting visitors, attending and hosting functions and being a true supporter of the game and the club in her own right. And of course, over the years, all the club pros had to learn suitable reasons to explain why Andrew was still at the club, and not home for dinner, when Elizabeth rang up!

But Elizabeth, your support of Andrew and the Club over the years must be acknowledged and applauded.

The wife of our previous Patron Quentin McDougall was Enid, knows to all the Big E. And I think it’s time for a suitable name for Elizabeth as well. Definitely NOT the Big E! Something more regal perhaps… I think Queen Elizabeth the First works well.

As some of you will know, I am collaborating with Andrew and Richard Travers to write the History of the Hobart Real Tennis Club. To be simply titled Tennis in Hobart, we hope to have the book published late in 2011, and it is there that we will fully learn everything that Andrew has done for our club and for the game here in Australia.

Andrew won’t thank me for saying this, but I want to acknowledge his quiet but generous support of both the club and so many members over the years. He has done much for many over the years, never seeking any acknowledgement. His generosity of spirit is unmatched in my mind.

Andrew has been our greatest club man, a fine player and an indefatigable supporter of real tennis in Hobart and Australia.

So Andrew, I am delighted to welcome you to the Honorary Life Membership club. It is a truly deserved honour – no one has ever deserved it more – and it gives me great pleasure to propose a toast to Andrew Kemp.


4 thoughts on “Andrew Kemp – Honorary Life Member – Hobart Real Tennis Club

  1. I was delighted to read the blog about Hobart Real Tennis Club. Samuel Smith Travers, your founder was a great great grand father of mine. I think he also built the original court at Ballarat VIC too.

    Every generation of our family have played real tennis since.

    I am lucky to live in Cambridge, UK where we have a high concentration of real tennis courts within easy reach. – 2 in Cambridge, 1 in Newmarket, 2 at Prested Hall and 1 at Hatfield House.

    I hope to come over to Hobart one day and play there too!

  2. I will be very interested in your yet to be published book as I believe that my Mother (Gwendolin (Rouse) FitzGerald was one of the first players of real tennis in Hobart and correct me if I’m wrong, she was also the state champion!

  3. Does anyone remember a Barry (name starting with T) who coached at Hobart in the early 1970s and who may have gone to Melbourne or canada in the mid 70s?

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