About the Club - A short history

RMTC is a private members’ club run by a Committee (the Board of Directors) elected by members, click on RMTC Governance for more details.

The Club’s facilities include two real tennis courts, a squash court, bar, kitchen and dining areas, library/meeting room, swimming pool and gymnasium.

Exhibition Street (1882 - 1974)

RMTC History 2

In 1882 Lord Normanby, the Governor of Victoria, opened the Melbourne Tennis Club in Exhibition Street in Melbourne’s CBD. This building originally consisted of a real tennis court and club rooms, but later included squash courts (said to have been Australia’s first) and an indoor swimming pool.

The RMTC’s status was enhanced in 1897 when Queen Victoria granted a Royal Charter to the Club enabling it to be known by its present title: The Royal Melbourne Tennis Club.

Below are some archival video showing the Exhibition Street court in the 1960s:

  • A guide to royal tennis 1964 - RMTC (Exhibition Street) - ABC TV RetroFocus
  • Royal tennis, the sport of kings 1969 at RMTC (Exhibition Street). Archival footage from ABC TV - This Day Tonight (Special).
    • Includes Bathurst Cup: Australia v United Kingdom singles matches:
      • Mike Searby (AU) v David Warburg (UK)
      • Geoff Hiller (AU) v Howard Angus (UK)

Sherwood Street (1974 - )

RMTC History 1

As the city of Melbourne expanded, the costs of owning expensive CBD real estate and of maintaining the Exhibition Street building had risen beyond the Club’s means. In the early 1970s, with much regret but considerable courage, the Committee sold the site and established the present Club premises in Richmond.

The new clubhouse and grounds were designed and built by renowned Melbourne architect Daryl Jackson in 1974.

George Limb, Alan Hamer and Richard Allen (for whom the clubhouse is named) were RMTC members instrumental in securing the Club’s present location in Richmond.

The two real tennis courts at RMTC are known as the George Limb Court (or North Court) and Alan Hamer Court (or South Court).

Richard Allen and Alan Hamer hit the first ball in September 1974 and then the club had six months to settle down before the official opening in March 1975 by Lord Aberdare, President of the UK Tennis & Rackets Association.

IMG 3391

Image above: Opening for RMTC members at Richmond - Fri. 25 October 1974

Today, RMTC is one of the few clubs in the world to have two real tennis courts; the others are Cambridge University Real Tennis Club, The Queen’s Club, and Prested Hall Racket Club in the UK and The New York Racquet & Tennis Club in the US.

Below are some archival videos showing the early days at Sherwood Street - checkout what has changed (hint: white balls, yellow chase markings and short shorts):

  • The Official Opening of RMTC (Sherwood Street) in March 1975 (with special guests Pierre Etchebaster and Lord Aberdare). Includes:
    • Bathurst Cup:
      • Australia v United Kingdom 2nd Singles match: Andrew Heard (AU) v Andrew Windham (UK)
      • United States v United Kingdom Final Singles match: Jimmy Van Alen (US) v Allen Lovell (UK)
    • Australian Open - Semi Final Open Singles:
      • Chris Ronaldson (UK) v Norwood Cripps (UK)
      • Frank Willis (UK) v Barry Toates (AU)
    • Australian Open - Final Open Singles:
      • Frank Willis (UK) v Chris Ronaldson (UK)
    • Group lesson with Pierre Etchebaster
Pierre on Court 1975

Image above: World Champion Pierre Etchebaster conducting a lesson at RMTC - Official Opening Weekend, Richmond - 1975. Using a Bancroft racket, with amazing dexterity.

  • An Introduction to Royal Tennis by Vernon Mursell - RMTC (Sherwood Street) circa 1985.
    • Includes highlights of the 1985 Australian Open Doubles Final
      • Wayne Davies & Tony Cockram v Graham Hyland & Ted Cockram.

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