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The Victory Ground at 100 - Memories of the Bury & West Suffolk Tennis Tournament




For seven days in the height of each summer The Victory Ground would serve up a taste of Wimbledon in a patch of west Suffolk.

Ahead of the last Monday in July, two weeks hard graft from the grounds team would go into transforming the Bury St Edmunds cricket field into a top grass tennis court venue.

The annual Bury & West Suffolk Tennis Tournament, which staged its 92nd event last year, would bring a fun large-scale takeover of the site up until a venue switch to Culford School in 2012.

Bury and West Suffolk Tennis Tournament...Pictured -. (36269432)
Bury and West Suffolk Tennis Tournament...Pictured -. (36269432)

During that time it morphed from a very well regarded senior event on the grasscourt circuit to a junior tournament which gave locals the unique chance to test themselves against some of the country’s most promising talents.

Alastair Passey, who ran it with Roy Wilson for around 40 years up until the turn of the new millennium came up, said: “In our best year in 1991 we had over 400 entries.

“Organisations used to bring teams from Wales, Ireland and even Holland one year, I think.

Bury and West Suffolk Tennis Tournament...Pictured -. (36269523)
Bury and West Suffolk Tennis Tournament...Pictured -. (36269523)

“We used to have 22 grass courts there and it took 10 days to two weeks to set it up.

“It was such a nice venue. Families came and set up with their picnics.”

Current tournament chairman Susan Glasswell said: “It was a lovely atmosphere and I will always have very fond memories of the Victory Ground.

“It was fantastic and very special times.

Sport: Bury Free Press.At the Victory Ground, Tennis Courts, BSE.West Suffolk Tennis Tournament-80th anniversary..ella monsey. (36269297)
Sport: Bury Free Press.At the Victory Ground, Tennis Courts, BSE.West Suffolk Tennis Tournament-80th anniversary..ella monsey. (36269297)

“My parents played in it and I played in it and then my children played in it as well.

“Christine Truman’s daughter won it one year and Christine (Wimbledon finalist 1951 & French Open winner 1959) presented the trophies.”

She added: “People do say they still miss the Victory Ground but it is a different event now because of all the (required player ranking) ratings.”

Bury and West Suffolk Tennis Tournament...Pictured -. (36269544)
Bury and West Suffolk Tennis Tournament...Pictured -. (36269544)

Truman’s appearance in 1987 was not the only known famous connection to the tournament with former British number one doubles player James Auckland having been among those to have taken part.