The story of tennis in Cyprus basically began with the creation of the Field Club early in the previous century, the first tennis club on the island, after the British arrived.
The Field Club was established in 1913 by Helen Jane Luxmore Jeffery, the wife of the Registrar of Foreign Monuments in Cyprus, George Jeffery.
At first a piece of land was acquired (where the residence of the Greek Ambassador is today) on which a tennis court was constructed. It was given the name Field Club because at the time it was completely surrounded by fields. At around 1920 more land was bought near the first court and a second court was built for the benefit of club members, the number of which was steadily growing. A number of tournaments were also held at the time for both men and women. The club did not yet have a club house and everyone played with the same balls, which were kept in the homes of club members who lived nearby.
As the first President of the club, Mrs Jeffery, with the help of Thalis Kababe as Honorary Secretary and Treasurer, undertook the task of management. There was no committee and the President together with the Secretary/Treasurer had complete responsibility over its affairs. This arrangement lasted for about 30 years under various Presidents, who happened to be the wives of high-ranking British officials in the colonial government. Most times the President would appoint her successor before her departure.
The founder and first President of the Field Club died in December 1926. All 50 members contributed towards memorial alabaster sculpture, which was placed in the St Paul’s Anglican Church in Nicosia, where it can still be seen today.
This period in the history of the Field Club lasted until 1950 when its management was passed on to an elected committee. This was also when it was decided to transfer the club to its current premises.
Towards the middle of 1952 four clay courts were built, the first such courts in Cyprus. As the Field Club did not yet have a club house, building one was to be its next task. Funds to do so were acquired through the sale of a number of plots of land that had been bought in Agious Omoliyites. Despite considerable objections raised by the Department of Antiquities, which considered the ‘Moat’ as an ancient site where no interventions were allowed, the club house was completed and handed over to the members at an official ceremony on 3 October in 1954 at 12 pm at which almost all the members of the colonial government were present headed by His Excellency, the Governor, and Lady Armitage.
The acquisition of its own club house sparked off considerable social activity at the Field Club, with dances, chess tournaments and other events being held there, all of which attracted more members including many women.
It was the Field Club that set the foundation for the development of tennis on the island and led the way in promoting and improving the quality of the sport. In the mid 1960s a British coach, Gordon Ramsden was hired. His presence was instrumental in the growth of the game. The results of his efforts appeared 6 to 7 years later as the level of tennis showed a marked improvement. Field Club players began to play proper, conventional and even spectacular tennis for the first time in the history of the game on the island and began to take part in various local tournaments.
Over time the Field Club hosted a number of international competitions such as the Davis Cup, the Women΄s Circuit, national tournaments, international veterans, the Junior ITF Aphrodite Cup, amongst others. Participants included foreign players of a high standard as well as local players of the national team. Most of these players were from the Field Club with many having reached a high national ranking.
In 2000 the Field Club, with the initiative of Mr Christos Karamallakis, decided to set up its own Tennis Academy with the aim of further developing the game, broadening its base and encouraging the noble art of competition. The Field Club Tennis Academy, fully approved by the Cyprus Sports Organisation and the Cyprus Tennis Federation, currently has about 200 players aged from 5 to 50 playing the game. Its experienced coaches teach the game in accordance with a specific programme in small groups of four. In addition the club also has a special area for teaching tennis theory, used on rainy days as well as a fully equipped gym.
Today the Field Club, Cyprus’ oldest and biggest club, has the best facilities on the island. In all 11 courts (8 clay, 2 artificial grass and one training court) are available to the 450 adult and junior members. The club’s centre court has viewing stands with a capacity of 600 people and the club house itself is surrounded by a verdant garden conducive to healthy exercise, relaxation and socialising.
The management of the Club is carried out by a 7 member executive council on behalf of the General Assembly elected for a two year term. In order to better serve members and academy players the club hires a full time permanent secretary. A canteen also provides food and refreshments.
The Field Club continues to exist in the moat beneath the Venetian walls surrounding the old city of Nicosia, about 50 metres from the Green Line that divides it. Its players continue to achieve excellent results in island-wide tournaments in all categories. It employs 6 qualified coaches at its academy who also offer private lessons on non academy days. It is a full member of the Cyprus Tennis Federation and takes part in the annual inter-club tournaments. In addition to the various club tournaments it holds, it also organises an annual pancyprian open tournament, which as a rule generates a lot of interest with over 400 participants.