The tennis community of Brighton & Hove mourns the loss of local coach Cy Pollard. A popular figure in the city, Cy, 86, died at the Martlets Hospice in September.
Cy is best known as the long term coach, captain and leader of Dyke Park Tennis Club, where he presided over three decades of steady growth and success on the tennis court. He remained active on the tennis scene right up to last summer.
Before Cy arrived, Dyke had gone several decades without winning the Parks League shield. You had to go back to 1941 to find their single victory in Division 1. By taking control of the team, improving standards, and encouraging a strong core of women players, Cy helped Dyke win the shield in 2010, 2012, 2017 and 2019. Dyke remain a force in the Parks League today, finishing second in 2023.
Sheila Deen, Dyke club secretary, says: “Cy had a huge appetite for tennis and devoted so much of his time and energy to Dyke and the B&H Parks League. Our club has flourished under his leadership with ever increasing membership, coaching opportunities and significant improvements in our standards of play. Everyone will remember his competitive spirit and determination to avoid conceding any matches.”
Conrad Brunner writes: “Cy was simply very good at attracting and encouraging tennis players, and had a genius for bringing in women players of all ages and developing them into strong Parks League competitors. This changed a lot of people’s lives for the better.
“The enduring popularity of the Parks League owes a lot to Cy’s driving force, and our annual meetings were invariably illuminated by his plain speaking and robust common sense. He’ll be greatly missed.”
Soldier, male model, dancer, salesman…Cy Pollard led a rich and varied life. As well as tennis, he loved swimming, table tennis, reading, playing with his grandchildren and watching football. Daughter Tanya tells us you can catch a glimpse of Cy as a young boy in the 1948 film Brighton Rock. Cy was married to Elaine (since 1969) and they have four daughters (Sacha, Tanya, Katrina & Amelia) and 11 grandchildren.
Thanks to Cy’s family for their help with photos and details.
Additional story about Cy from 2019:
Katie Moorman has been a dominant performer for Queens in Division 1 for several years. In 2019, she was the top female points scorer in the entire league, winning 14 out of 17 matches. Katie told us a bit about her early steps in tennis, and the influence of Cy Pollard.
“I was a very keen tennis player when I was growing up. I did two paper rounds to fund my coaching lessons once a week. I used to look out of my bedroom window and wish that I could play over the road at Queens Park Tennis Club.”
Aged 12, Katie dutifully presented herself for membership of her local club. The late Brenda Jewell was the all-powerful matriarch who ran Queens (and the Parks League) at that time. Brenda was honoured with a special LTA award for her services to tennis, and there are many who still revere her memory and miss her strong leadership. She was a formidable woman, who did much for tennis in our city – but this was not, perhaps, her finest hour.
“I had a ‘trial’ on club night which in those days was heavily populated by 1st team players as well as many others. Brenda was quite scary, and I was mortified when she said I wasn’t good enough to play.”
Disappointed but undaunted, Katie was obliged to make the long journey to Dyke Park in order to pursue her love of the game.
“I used to play with my school friend who lived by Dyke Park and that’s where I met Cy (Pollard, long term Dyke coach). He was really kind and enthusiastic – said that we had potential to be really good and asked us to join. I was delighted.
“Cy welcomed juniors and integrated them well into the club sessions. He was in charge of club nights and I guess, looking back, he matched people up of similar standard so people didn’t get fed up with the juniors.”
Under Cy’s supervision, Katie worked hard on her technique and eventually made it into the Dyke Tuesday teams, then Wednesday teams. Toughened up by regular bicycle trips from Queens Park to Dyke Park, her progress was so rapid she was soon invited to play for the Dyke first team, something she did with such distinction that alarm bells started to go off in BN2.
“It wasn’t until I beat Queens first team mixed in a crunch league match (which meant that Dyke won the 1st Division title) that Brenda herself asked me to join Queens and said ‘you really should join here as you live so close’!
“Initially I didn’t want to because I was stubborn and also loyal to Cy, as he was the one that took time to help me improve. But after a while I thought it was silly cycling to a club three times a week when I had a club opposite where I lived.”
To the lasting benefit of Queens Park Tennis Club, she eventually said ‘yes’.
“Parks tennis was a massive part of my life when I was growing up and continues to be to this day. I love it.”
We don’t know her exact total of Parks League victories for Queens over the years, but it must be well into three figures. Thank you Katie. And thank you Cy – you did a great job.
– Conrad Brunner