The Chairman of Woodfield Grove, Peter Risdon, was honoured on Club Finals Day, Saturday 24 June, when he was presented with the prestigious Tennis Surrey Meritorious Award by the county’s Honorary Chairman, David Cianfarani.
It was a great surprise for Peter, who had no inkling that arrangements were being made to include members of his family and close friends as well as club members to be present for the occasion.
Mr Cianfarani slipped quietly into the club during the afternoon on the pretext of ‘just passing by’, and was joined by Peter’s brother, Michael, from Ireland, and his cousin Dianne and her son, Daniel, to help spring the surprise.
At 4pm precisely Champagne was served and Peter, lured from his post behind the bar, was presented with a magnificent glass decanter by David, who said: “Peter is the 21st recipient of this special award that recognises the selfless contribution that he has made to Woodfield Grove Tennis Club since he was a child.
“He has served as Chairman for over 30 years, represented the club countless times on the court, won 37 titles and had the centre court named in his honour.
“That isn’t enough, though, to recognise your great contribution, and it gives me great pleasure to present the Tennis Surrey Meritorious Award to you on this very special day.”
For once, the Chairman was caught by surprise and found himself at a loss for words beyond ‘Thank you!’ – a secret well kept and and an honour thoroughly well deserved.
A former stockbroker and director of BZW UK Equities Limited, Peter has been involved with tennis for most of his life as a player, umpire and volunteer club official.
He took a two-year break from the City to manage Lew Hoad’s Campo de Tenis in Spain and opted for early retirement in 1997, concentrating his efforts on Celebrity Tennis, a consultancy he was the driving force behind forming in 1997, and Woodfield Grove Tennis Club, where he continues to serve as Chairman.
In fact, he is by far the club’s longest serving Chairman of the club and is currently in his 34th year of office, having just been re-elected for 2017-18.
He has been a member of Woodfield Grove Tennis Club since a child, and is its staunchest supporter. He has also acted as both men’s captain and treasurer.
On the playing front, he was an integral part of Woodfield Grove’s ‘golden era’ in the 1970s when the club fielded several teams in county competitions and played some 31 friendly matches throughout the year with local clubs.
In 1975, Peter, together with fellow-member Gordon Blair, reached the finals of the Greater London Parks Doubles Championships and the pair also reached the finals for the Surrey Doubles, twice.
In July 2005 the main tennis court at the club, Court 2, was named after him and a plaque presented by Honorary Member Maria Esther Bueno marked the occasion.
In 2014 Peter was further honoured by the club in celebration of fifty years since his first win there, after which he captured a total of 37 titles to date, and the members presented a silver trophy to him to be used for a new event and, as a result, the Ris Team Cup was born with the inaugural competition held in 2015.
Over the years, in the club tournament, Peter has won 10 singles, 15 doubles and 13 mixed doubles titles to date.
The Ris Team Cup was a fitting tribute to one of the club’s most successful players and its most committed volunteer, who has now been formally recognised by Tennis Surrey for all the work he has done to make Woodfield Grove such a successful club.
Thanks is owed to Claire Lean, the club Secretary, for orchestrating all the top secret arrangements and to those very few who did know, for keeping it such a surprise!
Recipients of the Tennis Surrey Meritorious Award:
- 2017 Peter Risdon (Woodfield Grove)
- 2016 Denise Woods (West Surrey)
- 2015 Margaret Clifford (Merrow), Kay Crooks (Wilton)
- 2014 Martin Hooff (Purley)
- 2013 Eric Rosier (Selsdon), David Garrett (Sutton Churches), Jenny Baird (Ember)
- 2012 Nell Wells (Magdalen Park), Jenny Ritchie (Old College), Warwick Webb (Downswood), Mike and Valerie Padfield (Alfold), Mary Lane (Banstead Downs)
- 2011 Bill Cowan (Purley Sports)
- 2010 Sue Rothwell (New Malden), Michael Pinnegar (Reigate)
- 2009 Julia Godman (Woking), David Coyte (Walton)
- 2008 Peter Lane (Banstead Downs)