The History of Tennis at Dollar Academy

Our Archivist, Janet Carolan has written about the history of tennis at Dollar Academy, which you can read below:

When was tennis first played at Dollar Academy?

In the 1890 photo above, the pupils are wearing caps with the old Dollar Institution Dragon Ship badge, dated 1889-90. It is known that the school had played matches against the local Dollar Tennis Club (founded in 1883) for several years before that, but is not clear when the school acquired its first tennis court. The school archive has no record of the making of the first court, but it was certainly in use by 1889 when The Alloa Advertiser reported that a ‘House Tournament in connection with the Boarding Houses’ was played on the Institution tennis court.

By 1902, girls were being encouraged to join the School Tennis Club and there were two grass courts. The Dollar Magazine reported that they were to be put at the disposal of the girls 6 weeks earlier than usual. An unpopular new rule was introduced – no boys were to be allowed near the courts. Boys were to concentrate on cricket.

The following year the courts were considered to be in a fit state for playing, having been cut and rolled, but the girls complained that ‘the mountains had not been levelled nor the valleys filled up’. There was also a serious lack of wire netting round the courts. Several years later, balls were still being lost in the long grass and trees, ‘taking away much of the pleasure of the game’. Even worse, a new net was very badly needed: ‘it is ludicrous to attempt tennis over a net propped up with various supports which the first hard shot lays low.’

In 1904, a ‘neat little pavilion’ was erected for the use of girls playing hockey and tennis. It was very small, made of wood and was known as the hen-coop or hen-house. The photo above, taken in 1914, shows there was still no wire netting round the courts!

A new, much superior pavilion (see photo above) was erected for the boys beside the sports field in 1908. In 1913, two ash tennis courts were made behind this pavilion, now replaced by the Maguire Building. These courts were used by both girls and boys, but not on the same days. Later, they became ‘the Boys’ Courts.’ The girls eventually had new ash courts in front of the Prep School, which were in use until the all-weather area was constructed.