Tennis club formed by Young Chinese League, played for many years socially including annual tournaments.
Founded in 1932, the Young Chinese League was established to bring people of Chinese descent together, to meet and share social, cultural and sporting activities. The club merged out of two former social clubs, the Chinese Progressive Association and the Chinese Athletics Association. Social clubs like the Young Chinese League provided an outlet for young Chinese to meet prospective partners and advance ties within the Chinese community. In the 1940s a social tennis club was established the by the League.
The tennis club was set up by Russell Moy and Mervyn Limon, both keen tennis players and members of the North Balwyn Lawn Tennis Club. In February 1951, the first annual tennis tournament was held, with both championships and handicap events. There were men’s singles, ladies singles, mixed doubles, juvenile singles, as well as handicaps and B grade matches. The tennis tournaments held each year formed an important part of the Young Chinese League’s social calendar with tennis played at the annual picnic in January, as well as the tournament in February culminating in the Tennis Trophy Night dance in April. For the Young Chinese League the tennis tournaments were a financial success as well as socially successful.
As early as 1956 a special commemorative trophy was created in memory of Donald Cheng, a lifelong player of tennis. In memory of Russell Moy in 1996, the Russell Moy Memorial Trophy was established to mark his dedication to the sport, as well as his involvement as referee and supporter of Young Chinese League tennis tournaments.
As well as formal tennis tournaments, they also played friendly competition matches against other Asian social clubs such as the Indonesian Students Association in 1962. In addition, in 1963 a challenge was thrown by the Borneo Student’s Association to play tennis and table tennis.
In 1966, a special interstate tennis tournament was developed with the New South Wales Chinese Tennis Association. The tournaments were usually held on the Queen’s Birthday Weekend. Keen rivalry and friendship has been forged between the two state clubs, with the annual challenge alternating between Melbourne and Sydney. The two cities would battle it out on the tennis court for the Interstate Trophy. Like any sporting code in Australia, there was city rivalry where cities competed against one another. Chinese communities in Australia were no different with the Young Chinese League newsletters playing up the Melbourne-Sydney divide. Sydney won in 1972, Melbourne in 1975 and 1976, and Sydney regained the trophy in 1977.
After many years of keen competition, the Young Chinese League tennis tournament was renamed the Chinese Tennis Championships of Melbourne in 1990.
Sources used to compile this entry: Museum of Chinese Australian History collection including - Russell Moy – oral history transcript; Young Chinese League newsletters, 1956-2003; Young Chinese League Exhibition Notes, 1993 – Chinese Museum History Collection.
Prepared by: Brendan O'Donnell, Monash University
Created: 5 December 2009, Last modified: 23 January 2010