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.
Saturday 16th September saw yet another bright sunny day for what is now the 10th End of Season Tournament held at Hove Park tennis courts, writes Jon Lightbody. This year would be the first to take place on the ‘red stuff’. As always the Tournament proved very popular so I took a gamble (which came back to haunt me later on!) and allowed extra teams to enter, taking our tally from the usual 12 teams to 14 and 84 players in all. With some members and family joining in for a jolly social day in the Park I reckon there were approaching 100 people there for the day – a testament to what a fun and exciting day the Tournament has proved to be. Photos: see gallery below
With the extra teams I knew the day was going to be a challenge so after a brief introduction and the collecting of entry fees by my assistant Rita Mullins it was time for action. Teams as always were split into two groups with Group A being filled by Dyke, Hove, King Alfred, Queens, Saltdean and two teams from St Ann’s. Group B saw teams from Dyke, Hollingbury, Hove, King Alfred, Preston Park, Queens and Saltdean battle it out for the day.
At 1pm everyone was under starters orders. Knowing how tight the time table had become my answer to the question “How much time do we get for a warm up” was “None”. This was surprisingly well received with good humour by the players, much to my relief! It all started very well – having explained the urgency of the time table and asking players to be ready for the change with each match the response was terrific. I have much appreciation for the teams who were ready and on court in the quickest of time and (mostly) ready to play when that whistle blew.
The day progressed serenely and my clock watching seemed to be going ok. It was a lovely experience sitting at my table with plenty of action going on around the courts and surrounded by what are quite awe-inspiring Shields for the League Division winners to be presented later on. It is always quite something to see people, especially young children passing by, stop and stare at the size and history of the League Division 1 – The Beckett Challenge Shield. Although I was stuck at my desk for the day time passed quickly with idle chat and the occasional question from players.
In fact time was passing too quickly. By mid afternoon and a little basic maths it was becoming apparent that maybe the timetable was not going to work. After a quick discussion with Rita and Mick Cox I decided on the plan. I would make each match shorter – surely no one would really notice. Gradually over the next hour I reduced the usual 15 minutes down to 10. The plan was working. My only downfall was that, unlike myself, most people wear a watch. It wasn’t too long before the inevitable questions – was that really fifteen minutes? The response though was fantastic. No one was unhappy at all and accepted the situation with great enthusiasm and kept the games, albeit shorter, rolling along.
By 5.15, and a definite cut off time of 6pm, it was still going to be very tight. We had the use of two courts beyond 6pm and with four more matches to go another plan was hatched. Three matches I could squeeze in. The fourth would need radical change. I decided that for the fourth match and only two courts available, the four teams involved should only put out one pair each instead of the usual three. With cap in hand, I approached the teams concerned and was so grateful when all of them without hesitation agreed to the plan. What a great bunch!
The results though never really looked in dispute. From early on Queens Park took an early lead in both Groups. Although there was some chasing from Hove in both groups and St Ann’s first team in Group A, Queens comfortably hung on to their lead in both groups. These are the final tables.
Now it’s at this point that I have to apologise to Hove! Due to some dodgy adding up I announced one of the Hove teams as having come fifth whereas if I hadn’t missed 10 points plus off, they would have been happy to know that they actually came second! Possibly everyone was too exhausted to take me task on the day, and maybe it’s best not to put me in charge of the economy just yet!
To finish the day off there were trophies to present. With our President Mike Jenner alongside, the Leage Division shield were presented. Division 4 winners this year were a well deserved Hollingbury. Division 3 went to a strong St Ann’s team, with Division 2 going to Hove B. The winners of the Beckett Challenge Shield for the third year running were Hove. Congratulations to all of you. Finally, there were the shields for the day’s competition – congratulations to both Queen’s teams.
All in all I think the day was enjoyed by everyone. Although the timetable was tight and I had to play around with it the focus was more on having a great fun day with lots of tennis involved. As one player said to me, during the League season playing matches you don’t get much chance to talk to people so during the day at Hove Park it’s great to have plenty of time to chat and catch up, have some fun and enjoy a picnic and in may cases enjoy Prosecco and beer!
As always I have many thanks to give. Firstly, to Hove Park Tennis Alliance and Neil Dickson for giving us the use of Hove Park Tennis courts for the day. Secondly to Rita Mullins for supplying the balls and organising the finance, and thirdly to Mike Jenner for coming along and presenting the Shields. But the biggest thanks go to all the clubs, teams and players who make such an enjoyable day possible and make all the work involved very, very rewarding. See you all again next year!
It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of Cy Pollard, a leading figure in Brighton and Hove’s thriving tennis community. He made a huge contribution to tennis in the city and will be sorely missed. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and many friends. Below is a message from Sheila Deen of Dyke Park Tennis Club where Cy Pollard was club captain for many years.
From Sheila Deen, Dyke Park Tennis Club:
“To all Parks club secretaries and committee members: I just need to share the sad news that Cy Pollard, our club captain at Dyke for as long as we can remember, passed away last night. He was surrounded by many of his family members in the Martlets hospice.
“Cy had a huge appetite for tennis and devoted so much of his time and energy to Dyke and the B&H Parks leagues. Our club has flourished under his leadership with ever increasing membership, coaching opportunities and significant improvements in our standards of play !
“He will always be a legend for us at Dyke. I’m sure that many of you can recall his competitive spirit and determination to avoid conceding any matches !
Congratulations to Hove Park on securing the 2023 Division 1 title, and retaining the Charles Beckett Shield for a third consecutive season. They will collect their trophy at the Parks League awards ceremony, held directly after the conclusion of the End Of Season tournament on Saturday 16 September.
Martin Patrick writes:
Hove Park had their clay courts and floodlights installed at the end of last year and all the clubs’ players were eagerly awaiting the start of the Parks League season to play competitive tennis matches in our new environment. Thank you to those players from other clubs who kindly gave us positive feedback about our courts and I do hope everyone enjoyed playing on them. A massive thank you to Neil Dickson (our fantastic Hove Park Tennis Alliance Chairman) who lead the way and worked tirelessly to make these changes happen.
There was also the very successful Parks League App for submitting results (a big relief to those of us with bad handwriting) that came into force across the leagues this summer.
This was a tough season in Division One with the Hove, Dyke and Queens First teams battling it out for the title. Hove had some great close matches against their nearest two rivals and some tight three set matches against the King Alfred, Saltdean and Preston Park teams.
Hove managed to win the league in their last match of the season at the Dyke in a very competitive match that had to be rearranged twice (like many other matches across the leagues this season). This adverse weather resulted in many of us keeping a ‘close eye’ on the Met Office app (other brands are also available ) throughout the season!
Many thanks to the following Hove players (who represented the First team) for their fantastic commitment and performances this season: Alistair Alexander, Basia Suzin, Helen Almond, Josh Pollard, Thomas Pollard, Marc Manton, Tom Manton, Lauren Gunning, Yasmin Coleman, Eloise Saville, Jo Davis, Amy Slonje, Kevin Garratt, Fariss Barakat, David Taylor, Keith Gill, Darren Pollard, Lucy Chadburn and Penny Telford. Like every other team, unfortunately there were illnesses and injuries throughout the season so even I had to play as well (at least the opposition were pleased to see me) and hence a total of twenty players played for Hove First team.
Many thanks to Alistair Alexander, Basia Suzin and Mick Cox for their help and guidance throughout the season and the Hove supporters who were kind enough to support us in all sorts of weather conditions.
Thank you to the Parks Committee who work so hard and give up their time to make the Brighton and Hove Parks league such a great place to play competitive tennis. The Parks league has been going for nearly one hundred years for a reason!
Join us for the Parks Cup Finals Day: Sat 22 July, from 1pm, at Queens Park Tennis Club.
Finals Day features all the finals from the 2023 Parks Cup competition (see details below).
This year’s event features strong representation from Hove, Dyke, Queens, King Alfred and St Ann’s.
The Parks Cup, established in 1930, is for Parks League players only, and Finals Days is always one of the most enjoyable days of our local tennis calendar. The Queens’ clubhouse and bar will be open throughout for food, drink and ice-creams. Best wishes to our former teammates Steve Dorney and Mo Jones, who will also be taking part.
See provisional line up below.
Mens Singles Final: Seb Puga (Dyke) vs Tom Bradford (Queens)
Ladies Singles Final: Helen Almond (Hove) vs EITHER Sarah Watkins (Queens) OR Judit Bardon (Hove)
Men’s Doubles Final: Brett Macdonald & Ben Pegler (King Alfred) vs EITHER Andy Mullins & Kisoran Moodley (King Alfred) OR Sam Waller-Carr & Charlie Brown (Queens)
Ladies Doubles Final: Sarah Watkins & Tam Brittan (Queens) vs Helen Almond & Lucy Chadburn (Hove)
Men’s Plate Final: Robin Ajder (St Ann’s) vs Sean Mahon (Queens)
Mixed Doubles Final: Andrew Woolston & Monica Crosa (St Ann’s) vs Mo Jones & Jo Marlow (Dyke)
Veterans’ Mixed Doubles Final: Steve Dorney & Max Lunderstedt (Queens) vs Nick Saxon & Amanda Tickel (Dyke)
Oliver Smyth has been playing Parks League tennis since 1977. Raised in Manchester, he grew up around The Northern Tennis Club, which hosted many top stars on its splendid grass courts back in the 50s and 60s. Young Oliver would go along with his autograph book, and you can see him photographed below with the great Margaret Court of Australia, winner of 24 major singles titles. Now retired, Oliver as been an active tennis coach (Badgers, Brighton College), while enjoying many seasons of competitive tennis on the parks courts of our city. Over 42 seasons, we estimate that Oliver has played 700 Parks League matches, and he is still going strong for Hove Park D.
We asked Oliver some questions about his own personal Parks League story.
Parks League Debut
“I made my Parks League debut for Queens A against Hove A in 1977. I played against Jim Denman, father of Brian and Tony. I then represented Queens from 1977 to 2014, only stopping because I needed a hip replacement. I started playing for Hove in about 2017.”
Parks League successes “I was a member of Queens A which won the Division 2 title in 1977, and was captain of the Queens 1st team that won the Division 1 title in (I think) 1988, 1989 and 1990. I remember giving a speech at the Parks League dinner at the Old Ship Hotel in 1990! I never won a Parks Cup title. Partnering Tony Wellington (Woodingdean), I reached the semi-final of the men’s doubles but we were not allowed to play it. As a consequence, I decided not to enter any more. I also played quite regularly for the Parks 3rd Team in the County League with Tony Wellington, and occasionally for the Parks Vets, which does not exist anymore. I have a shoebox full of trophies that I won at Queens and Hove for all sorts of competitions.I was in five or six men’s singles finals at Queens, winning two of them, in 1984 and 1999. In 1999, I also won the men’s doubles, so that is the best year for me, especially as I was 52 years old at the time. I also won the men’s doubles at Hove in 2022.”
Favourite place to play “Queens. It is such a lovely situation and it was close to work. However, the shale courts there were very dusty; the best ones were at the Rookery.”
Toughest Opponents “Mike Jenner, Ian King, Chris Tyler, Christian Salter.”
Favourite partners “Richard Nutbeam and Denise Taylor. Denise was here for less than 3 years, but was the best player I have ever seen in the Parks. She had been ranked 200 in the World and played for GB in the Wightman Cup.”
Best memories “Winning the first division for the first time. I think the final four matches were won 8-0 and we finished one point ahead of our rivals in the dark in Patcham. Also, the end of season dinner at the Black Lion in Patcham was really good fun.”
What does Parks League mean to you “The reason the Parks League have survived is because it is one large family. There are no social divisions and everyone loves tennis for its own sake. There are opportunities to play both socially and competitively; you get out of it what you put in. Of course there are squabbles, but that shows how much everyone cares. We are all very lucky to be in a city with this league and we need to fight for its existence and independence.”
Blakers Park Tennis Club’s efforts to establish a community interest company (CIC) to run the two courts in Blakers Park are at serious risk of being derailed by the public consultation process which is running until 5 March.
Unless the outcome from the consultation is clearly in favour of the Blakers CIC, there will at best be delays in completing resurfacing work and Blakers might not have courts to play on this season.
At a well-attended meeting held last week there was strong opposition to the CIC proposals from many local residents who don’t want to see the tennis courts being used solely for tennis. The overwhelming view was the courts should be left unsecured and available for the wide range of informal and non-paying uses such as children riding their bikes and skateboards, football, yoga, dog training etc…
Blakers is asking Parks League players and all tennis supporters to complete the consultation document, which you’ll find here:
Blakers bid to become a CIC is in-line with similar initiatives already in place across the city’s parks at Queens Park, Dyke Park, Hove Park and St Ann’s Tennis. It is the council’s preferred governance model for managing and maintaining the city’s public tennis courts to ensure good quality accessible for all tennis facilities in the long term.
With very unfortunate timing, work to refurbish the courts started as the council launched the consultation on the CIC. The refurbishment has been secured through the council and is fully funded by the LTA on the proviso that the courts are used only for tennis. Blakers tennis club has not been involved in the timing or scope of this work.
Although the Blakers Park Tennis Club’s bid to become a CIC is essentially independent of the court refurbishment programme, the local opposition has conflated the two and is using the consultation process to argue that work on the courts should be stopped to allow a broader consultation on the use of the space; even though there is no funding or organisation in place to deliver alternative proposals.
If those opposing the CIC are successful, there is a very real risk that the courts at Blakers will be lost. And with no funding for a non-tennis use, the Blakers courts in the long term could become a derelict space in a much-loved park
The consultation closes on 5 March and Blakers tennis club appreciates all the positive responses it can get…
Please spend a few minutes to complete the form here: