Passion for tennis still strong

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The first game Jill Shelton played for the Citizens Tennis Club was at the Mataura Presbyterian Church Courts in 1949, the courts are now a car park.

Miss Shelton said she started helping with the Citizens Tennis Club when she was still in high school, so had been with the club for 69 years.

“I used to get all the teams ready. I was never president, but I was secretary, treasurer and I used to be club captain and we used to have the junior kids playing and we’d take them for coaching,” Miss Shelton said.

She said there were four men and four women in their A grade team when she played.

“We’d all play hard and then we’d socialise afterwards.”

Miss Shelton also played representative tennis and said the one representative team they hated playing was Town in Invercargill.

She said the tennis club appreciated all that the Mataura Licensing Trust and Southland Community Trust had done.

Miss Shelton was still involved to an extent, but she said some Saturdays she would stay home and watch the cricket on television.

“As a spectator I’ve been to one Olympic Games and three Commonwealth Games, so my holidays are all taken by sporting trips.”

Miss Shelton said she also watched a lot of this year’s Commonwealth Games on television.

“With the games being on one night I didn’t even go to sleep, I stayed awake all night. I enjoyed them.”

Citizen Tennis Club president Lynley Hogg said when her children first started playing tennis, Miss Shelton was running the committee single handedly.

“She lives and breaths tennis,” Mrs Hogg said.

At the end of the season the club has an end of year gathering for the younger players and Miss Shelton buys treats. Each child gets a raffle ticket which is drawn and they get to pick one of the sweet treats.

To celebrate Miss Shelton’s involvement there will be a celebration at the Gore Town and Country club starting at 2pm on Sunday, April 29.

“Overall, we’d just like to have a wee day to celebrate what Jill has done for tennis and we’d like to invite anyone who knows Jill through other walks of life to also come along.”