The world’s most scenic tennis court in North Harris was a place where dreams come true on Saturday (July 20th), with a celebratory birthday doubles match being played by three generations of one family.
But this was no ordinary family knockabout – tennis enthusiast Caroline Francis of Oxfordshire was about to turn 80, and her family planned the match to fulfil a dream she’d held for a long time.
Caroline has been visiting North Harris every year for decades and her daughter Jo Blythe has owned a house in Luskentyre for 23 years. On every trip since Jo can remember the family have driven the road to Huisinis and passed the court at Bunavoneadar, and her Mum has always said she would like to play there.
80-year-old Caroline plays a lot of tennis – she represented her county when she was younger and still plays twice a week – so her family decided that a birthday match would be the perfect treat.
Jo told welovestornoway.com today (Thursday July 25th): “When we realised Mum would be here for her birthday this year, we set about organising the match. We posted a notice on Facebook asking for players to join her and an excellent player from the Bays answered our plea – though I must say that I was kind of hoping for Jamie Murray, since I saw him tweeting that he was in Luskentyre last week as well.
“You can book the court via Mike and Peggy Briggs’ website and the pavilion has rackets and balls available for anyone who isn’t carrying them on holiday. Mum knew we were planning the match, so she was fully kitted out and had her own racket.”
Together with the local volunteer, Caroline got her doubles match with son Jonathan Nicholl and grandson Murdo Blythe (19), although none of them were a match for her professionalism.
“It was quite a windy day and, out of everyone, Mum was the only one who managed to serve over-arm every time. She’s a very skilled player and can play without running around and wasting energy.
“Mum said afterwards it was a lovely location but she didn’t think she had played very well – she is quite competitive and constantly judges her own performance. The rest of us were just glad we didn’t lose any balls in the wind! But it was great fun and I think we all preferred the wind to the midges.”
Pictures show Caroline Francis celebrating her 80thbirthday with grandson Murdo (left) and son Jonathan. (Jo Blythe).