Places of interest11 October 2019

Bordighera: the most ancient tennis club of Italy

The first Italian tennis club, even more than to anglophilia, is linked to colonialism. Behind the English Church, the Bordighera Lawn Tennis Club thrives in 1878, soon in amiable competition with the English Committee chaired by the bishop of London and Gibraltar.

Credit Facebook site

Credit Facebook site

Before the war of 1914, the two clubs will come to have nine camps and, when, after the conflict, the British community will reach three thousand people, the English Cooperative Sports and Colonies (sic) will rush to prepare six more courts. In the immediate post-war period, the first social competitions began to take place, until in 1925 the first internal tournament "BAIN CUP" was institutionalized. But already two years later, in 1927, the Club did all it could to organize high-level international competitions: among them the "LONG CUP" for professionals (ladies and gentlemen), which remained until the beginning of the second world war, one of the most classic tennis events in Italy; the "VERA CUP" for ladies, as well as two other cups for young people "under 16". These international competitions were all held every year at the beginning of spring, that is when the English colony was about to end, as was its use, the seasonal stay in the mild winter of Bordighera. To underline their importance it is enough to mention that, at the edition held on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation, a selected representation of players from eight nations took part: Italy, England, France, Germany, Austria, Ireland, Norway, Japan. However, it took some time before an Italian finally managed to win the coveted "LONG CUP" trophy: something that happened in 1933, the year in which Federico Billour - manager of the first racket factory in Italy - saw his name for the first time immortalized in the winners gold register.

That was the moment when the Circolo di Bordighera appeared to be the strongest on the Riviera: it almost always brought dazzling victories against all the other clubs, such as Alassio, Sanremo, Mentone and even against the fierce Monte Carlo. And under the noble eyes of the King of Sweden and of the Princesses of Savoy Mafalda and Giovanna, they used to try in those times their shots on the sixteen fields of the "City of palms", players of international fame such as the great Tilden, Lacoste, Cochet, Hopman, as well as our De Morpurgo, De Stefani and Vido. Unfortunately the golden age of tennis in Bordighera had to abruptly fade into the black clouds, harbingers of war and destruction, which were sadly gathering on international horizons. Since 1939 the English tennis players, whom we owe so much, abandoned Bordighera forever.

[Credit Facebook site]

At the end of the hostilities the resumption of the activity of the Club was very difficult. It was thanks to the tireless initiative of some passionate indigenous members, under the chairmanship of the late Count Castelnuovo di Torrazzo that it could be achieved, in exchange for the restoration works of the adjacent English Church, to the generous donation to the Municipality of Bordighera, by representatives of the English Community, of the old bombed headquarters together with three camps. In the same period, two other courts were appropriately purchased by the Municipality by virtue of the liquidation of the other Sports Cooperative also constituted, for the great majority, by British citizens. Following this, the fields were, although with great difficulty, rearranged and the "Club House" restored to its original function.

[Credit Facebook site]

However, it was not until the second half of the sixties that the Bordighera Tennis Club recovered, at least a little, to pre-war laurels. In fact, excellent tennis players came out of a large nursery in a short time, so much so that, in 1971, out of the thirteen second-class players that all Liguria counted then, four were from Bordighera. 1978 was a historic date for the city of Bordighera and for the entire Italian tennis movement, the Bordighera Tennis Club celebrated its 100th anniversary (1878 - 1978). For such an event nothing had to be left to chance and so it was, throughout the year national and international meetings were held with the participation of world-class players and the most important clubs.

Bordighera Lawn Tennis Club 1878
Associazione Sportiva Dilettantistica

Tel. 0184-842394
Cell. +39 33 33 479973 / +39 328 76 28685

Via Antonio Stoppani, 15
18012 Bordighera (IM)


Judit Neuberger

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