A History of Tennis at Fortunes Rocks

The Tennis Committee presents a brief history of our game at Fortunes Rocks, with many sincere thanks to the unfailing (mostly) memory banks of Bob Parker and Al Carlson.

Play seems to have begun as far back as the 1920s and 30s, but the first concrete fact we are aware of is the 1936 Mixed Doubles Championship Cup won by Bob’s mother. WW II and the great fire of ’47 brought a temporary halt to interest in tournament play, and there was little activity on the courts (there was a second where the current parking lot is located). We know that Bob’s brother, Bill, partnered Polly Nodden against Bart Weyand and an unknown guest in 1968. The great winter storm of ’78 sent the clubhouse, which was on the beach, across the road to come to rest on the tennis court. Subsequently, it was installed in its present location and the parking area established.

The Mr. Tennis of the 70s was Harry Stewart who kept tournament play going. A championship symbol was needed, and Nancy Banfield Gibson (Polly Nodden’s mother) stepped forward to donate The Silver Cup, put into play in 1982 and won by Robin Mellin and Tony Parker. Our tournament history is recorded on that cup, but shows gaps in 1985 (probably weather related) and from ’87 to ’90 when there was just no play.

The new Mr. Tennis of the 90s was Al Carlson who, as FRA president, promoted the renewal of tournament play in 1991. The winners that year were John Applebaum and Dennis Tallagnon, and play continued through the following seasons, until the Silver Cup was retired in 1997 (no room to inscribe the names of the winners); the last names to go on the Cup were Carol Zyskowski and  Frank Erath.

In 1998 the Pewter Cup was entered into competition for the first time and won by Bob Skrivanek and Dave Huber. With the later addition of a wooden base (lots of room for enshrining titleholders) it continues as a symbol of FRA tennis prowess. Many members’ names appear on the new trophy, but the clear leader is Betty Parks with five victories, each time with a different partner. And, once with Tom in 1986.

On Sunday, August 27, we gather to vie once again for The Cup and bragging rights, both currently held by Howie Salend and Don Allie. All tennis members are invited for the action on the court, the good fellowship of competition and the leftover drinkables from the Saturday Social. Play begins at 1 PM. Come, join in the fun and make some history.

Frank Erath