Organizers of the 91st Nairn Open Tennis Tournament had plenty to celebrate as local members and visitors converged on the town for this year’s event.
Because the tournament has been recognized by Tennis Scotland for its excellence as the tournament of the year 2021.
Secretary Paul MacDonald said: “We are delighted to have this recognition not only for the tournament but also for Nairn as a tourist destination.
“The last time we won the award was in 1995 and last year we were finalists in the UK as well. [section] it is therefore a big congratulations to the organization and the work done by the committee.
“It’s important to the local economy and we’ve had over 100 competitors this year, many of whom have traveled to stay in Nairn spending money on hotels, shops, guesthouses and Airbnbs local.
“We know Nairn is a great place to live, but it’s also a great holiday destination and we’ve had generations of families return to Nairn for the tennis tournament because it has so much to offer.
“In the 1920s and 1930s it attracted some of Scotland’s best players. But we encourage players of all skill levels and that adds to its appeal with open and handicap events that competitors can participate in.
“The tournament was originally organized by the town council playing in the old Albert Street Courts and part of the agreement when the courts moved to Viewfield was that the event would continue.
“It was and continues to be a popular competition for tennis players who enjoy the circuit during the summer months.”
Tennis champions turn out to be aces
Jane Russell, from Dunfermline, first won the ladies’ singles in 1981 under her maiden name Jane Martin.
“I used to come here before I got married and consider Nairn my ‘happy place’ and will see my ashes strewn on the beach when I die,” she said.
“It really is a family tournament and the Nairn tournament is part of my family and my whole adult life. I always compete and I love it.
“My daughter and granddaughter now compete here and I will continue to come for the rest of my life to meet my friends and hang out on the beach looking at the Black Isle and the Cromarty Souters.”
Lisbet Christensen, from Nairn, ruled the tournament for 17 years.
“I am considered the grandmother of tennis and I love meeting friends who have been coming here with their families for generations. We had fired Elena Baltacha [former British Number One] competing here when she was 12 and another sporting personality was Welsh international football captain Alan Durban.
“It’s a great tournament that always attracts good quality players.”
The referee for this year’s event was Colin Hanbidge (64) of the Giffnock club.
The three-time men’s singles winner and multiple doubles and mixed doubles winner said: “I first competed here in 1973. It’s a tradition that former players are invited back to referee and I was delighted to accept the invitation last year and again this year.”
Colin competed regularly at Nairn until becoming a full-time coach in 1990.
“These tournaments were the mainstay of tennis in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, attracting many top players.
“Today they are seen more as holiday tournaments but they still attract the standard county players. This is a fourth year tournament and players come here to improve their rankings as much as to enjoy Nairn and all it has to offer. It’s a great tournament and the committee deserves this award.