Tennis at Maritzburg College

Tennis is played with enthusiasm and high levels of commitment at Maritzburg College, resulting in a high standard of play amongst an ever-growing group of boys. Our seven on-campus tennis courts, dedicated coaching staff and regular fixtures mean College’s tennis players have every opportunity to excel.

Tennis has a long tradition at Maritzburg College, with competitive tennis starting in March 1892, where a College team took on the Pietermaritzburg Tennis Club. The Natal Witness commented that‚ “Although beaten, the boys showed good form, and with practice should develop into good players”.

Tennis continued to be played at College, but generally on a social scale, and in 1904 house matches were introduced. As always, weather played a great role especially as the courts were earth courts and rain played havoc with this surface. This problem was finally rectified in 1953 when two courts were concreted.

By the time the Second World War had ended, tennis became a recognised sport at College. In 1947, at least six fixtures were arranged against other local schools and the University. In 1952, school tennis received a boost with the presentation of the Deness Cup which was given in honour of Brian Deness, who died of polio. This league is still being played. By 1953, first team tennis players were awarded the coveted Large White Badge.

By 1959, College had four courts in total and had won the Deness Cup trophy five times in succession. In 1964, the Bonnefinn Trophy was introduced for U14 players and College snapped it up straight away.

College did not maintain its monopoly on the tennis trophies and tennis went into a slump in the early 70s. Even then, competition was tough, with one of the main contenders being Kearsney. The introduction of the Vic King Trophy for doubles players added new spice to the competition, and in 1974, the first year the tournament was being played, College brought the trophy home. By 1977, College had seven adequately surfaced courts in operation just above College Road.

By 1984, 200 boys were playing tennis either socially or competitively at College and Kershaw Park Tennis Club, under the strict eye of Mr Howard, the legendary coach and teacher in charge. When the tennis shelter was built in 1984, it was named “Howies Hut” after Mr Derek Howard. This was also known as “one of the best years in the history of tennis at College”. All the age groups went through the season unbeaten.