Berea Lawn Tennis Club

History records that in 1882 the Berea Lawn Tennis Club became the first club to be
founded in Durban. It was first situated behind St. Thomas' Church in Musgrave Road,
where the two original antheap cow dung courts were laid. It is believed to be the
second oldest tennis club in Southern Africa. The Durban Tennis Club, which no longer
exists, followed shortly afterwards in 1886.

In about 1890 Berea Tennis Club moved to its present site on the corner of
St. Thomas' Road and Berea Park Road - opposite the main entrance to Durban
High School for boys.

It is claimed that the oldest tennis club in South Africa is the Port Elizabeth Lawn
Tennis Club which was formed in 1879, several years after the arrival of the 1820

Until recently, the Richmond Tennis Club in Natal, was regarded as the oldest club
in the Country which came into being in 1876, but it is now defunct.

The first President of the Berea Lawn Tennis Club was W.A.G. Butcher, from 1891
to 1896. No records were kept prior to 1890. The first recorded winners of the
Men's and Ladies singles , in 1899, was H. Millar and Miss Green.

One of the earliest winners of the Berea mens singles was Stanley Dunbar Cockerell,
who was born in Durban on 18th August 1875. He won the event eighteen times from
1905 -1925, and won the mens doubles on ten occasions, partnered several times
with his brother, John D'Arcy Cockerell, who was also a prominent Natal player.

He was awarded Springbok colours in 1908 when he and his brother, were selected to
play against G.W. Hillyard's All England Men's Team in 1908/09.

Cockerell won the South African men's doubles in 1906, with John D'Arcy Cockerell
and the Natal men's doubles on six occasions from 1906 to 1918. He also won the
Natal men's singles in 1913.

He has two grandsons, Malcolm and Don Cockerell, who live in Westville and Mdloti,

Since those early pioneering days, players from Berea Tennis Club have featured
prominently in the history of the game, many of them now South African legends
whose performances both at home and overseas are well remembered.

Women players also played a prominent role in Berea's tennis history, none more
so than the legendary Bobbie Heine Miller (sister of Peter Heine, Springbok fast
bowler) - she hailed from Winterton in the Natal Midlands and became the Natal
senior champion at 15, the South African champion at 18 and at 19 was ranked
7th in the world.


She was part of the glory years, the golden years of Berea and Natal tennis which
she shared with two others - Billie Tapscott and Margaret Morphew. Between
Miller and Tapscott they dominated South African women's tennis to such an extent
that only twice in the period from 1928 to 1939, did either one fail to win the National
Singles crown.

Mabel Grant a member of Berea Tennis Club, became South Africa's first woman
champion. She later married E.Nevill who also played tennis at the Berea Club.

Billie Tapscott married Colin Robbins and they were instrumental in Berea dominating
the men's and ladies ''A'' Shield in the early years.

In 1929 Colin Robbins made his debut in Davis Cup competion, and played for South
Africa in four ties over the following two years.

Legend has it, that when Vernon G Kirby (Bob) was a mere seventeen years old and a
scholar at DHS, he was selected to play for South Africa.

The headmaster of DHS, Mr. A.S. Langley, refused to allow Bob Kirby leave of absence
to play for his country, and the President of the South African Lawn Tennis Union had
to make a special appeal to Mr.Langley to get him off school.

Bob Kirby played in ten Davis Cup ties, won sixteen matches and lost eight. Kirby and
Norman Farquharson became a formidable doubles combination, losing only one out of
eight of their Davis Cup matches.

He and Farquharson in 1931 and again in 1937, were the runners-up in the French
Men's Doubles Championships losing to formidable opposition in George Lott and John
Van Ryn of the US, and Gottfried von Cramm and Henner Henkel of Germany. In 1935,
Kirby and his partner, a Mrs Bond, were runners-up in the Australian Mixed Doubles.

Ian Vermaak was born in Empangeni in 1933, and was one of South Africa's great
tennis players. He was runner-up to Nicola Pietrangeli of Italy in the final of the French
Men's Singles Championships (Roland Garros) in 1959. He was seeded fourth for the

In 1950 Berea Tennis Club won all six Natal Shield Competitions, a feat which has
never been repeated in the history of Natal tennis.

In 1954 Ian was selected to represent South Africa in a Test Match against Australia to
commemorate the Queen's visit to Australasia. The S A team was Vermaak, Abe Segal
and Owen Williams. The match was played on grass and Ian was drawn to play Ken
Rosewall in the first singles tie, and went on to beat him in five sets. A great win against
one of the best players in the world. Ian Vermaak was 21 years old.

Two years later in 1956, Vermaak won the South African Singles when he beat Torsten
Johansson of Denmark in Johannesburg. His prize money was R50.

Ian Vermaak played in six Davis Cup ties from 1953-60. He made twelve appearances
winning 3 singles and 2 doubles with Abe Segal.

Nigel Cockburn was awarded his Springbok colours for tennis in 1949 and Gaeton
Koenig in 1960.

David Adams was born on 5th January 1970 in Durban. He turned pro in 1989 and
during his career won 19 doubles titles on the ATP tour. He finished runner-up an
additional 33 times including the French Open in 1992, when he and Andrei Olhovsky
were beaten in the final. David achieved a career-high doubles ranking of World No 9
in 1994. Adams participated in 6 Davis Cup ties between 1997 and 2003, posting a
4-2 record, all in doubles.

In 1999 David Adams, together with Mariaan de Swardt, won his first Grand Slam title,
the Australian Open Mixed Doubles, by beating Serena Williams and Max Mirny. David
won his second Grand Slam in 2000, when again in partnership with Mariaan, he won
the French Open Mixed Doubles by beating Todd Woodbridge and Rennae Stubbs of
Australia in three sets.

Renee Schuurman was better known for her achievements in doubles. She formed a
formidable partnership with Sandra Reynolds and they became known as South Africa's
tennis twins in the 1960's, and were the most popular doubles combination of their era.

Together they won four Grand Slam Women's Doubles titles, the Australian in 1959 and
the French in 1959, 1961 and 1962. In the1960 Wimbledon final they lost to Maria
Bueno and Darlene Hard. Two years later they were again denied the title when they
went down 7-5, 3-6, 5-7 to Billie-Jean King and Karen Hantze Suzman, the defending

In 1963, when Reynolds stopped playing, Renee Schuurman partnered Ann Haydon -
Jones of Britain to victory in the French Championships, when they beat Robyn Ebbern
and Margaret Court of Australia.

Bearing in mind that players of the calibre of Bueno, Hard, Margaret Court and Billie -
Jean King were their contemporaries, it makes their triumphs all the more remarkable.

In the 1959 French Championships, she was seeded 15th in the Women's Singles and
went out in the second round. In the Mixed Doubles, she partnered Rod Laver and they
were beaten in the final, however, three
  • Court Type: Hard Courts

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