PRINCE Edward took to the real tennis courts in Moreton Morrell and Leamington this week,
HRH the Earl of Wessex also met schoolchildren on the Midlands leg of his world tour to generate support for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
Real Tennis is the royal and ancient forerunner of modern-day lawn tennis, made famous by Henry VIII and still played on around 45 high-walled, galleried courts world-wide.
Through his ‘Tennis Challenge 2018’, the prince, himself a keen player and ambassador for the sport, aims to play at every club in the world, including on all Britain’s 27 courts.
At Moreton Morrell Tennis Court Club he watched youngsters from local schools including Kineton High, KES Stratford, Warwick School, and Stratford High trying their hand at the game.
He then took part in three hard-fought doubles matches with club members and partnered teenager Vaughan Hamilton from Moreton Morrell, a top junior international, whose game improved rapidly when he chose Real Tennis as his activity for his Duke of Edinburgh gold award.
The pair narrowly defeated Alan Moug and Mark Maclure 8-6 – with the Earl delighting the packed gallery with a screaming volley winner which was dubbed ‘the shot of the match’.
“I’ll remember that shot for a very long time,” quipped the prince afterwards.
Afterwards HRH also presented certificates to the players and a special commemorative racket to the club.
Club member Martin Trees said: “It was fabulous to see so many youngsters getting on court and trying the game.
“HRH was really friendly and encouraging to them and said how much it meant to him that clubs like ours were helping him to raise funds and awareness to give more young people the chance to get involved in the Duke of Edinburgh Award worldwide.
“Real Tennis may have a reputation as a royal sport but people from all backgrounds now play it and I really hope that following the prince’s visit, lots more people will come along to our club and give it a try – newcomers are always welcome.”
The prince later attended a fund-raising dinner at Leamington Real Tennis Club in Bedford Street, before a further series of matches.
Visit www.mmtcc.org for further details on Moreton Morrell Tennis Court Club.