Royal Ostend Tennis Club

Tennis-playing  in Ostend began in "the Parc Léoplod” at the end of the last century.
Maybe it was already being played on the beach.
It was played on two tennis courts at the foot of the city's walls – currently the area where mini golf links are located.
Unusually-dressed ladies and gentlemen were considered as making an exhibition of themselves as they hit the ball with their racket.
That a number of people strolling in the park disagreed with this ball-hitting venture is supported by the following letter some anxious mothers wrote to the local French-language newspaper :

Sir,
We were
always under the impression that parks were designed with a view to allowing the elderly, those in poor health and children to relax and enjoy themselves. Obviously, we were wrong. Children are apparently forbidden to play ball, to hoop play and our babies must sit upright and behave as if they were pictures, arms crossed, heads up straight, etc. Meanwhile, special grass courts are reserved for Lawn Tennis.

Anxious mothers
of families. The case of the “Parc Léopold”.
To the Editor of the “Echo Ostende''

Following the city's extension and protests lodged by worried parents, alternative grounds were sought and found near "the Petit Chateau”- familiarly known as “Duivenschieting”, the site of the Wellington racecourse. Players had four courts there on which to play.

Paul de Borman founded the “lawn Tennis Club” officially in 1901. Tennis was played on 14 courts close to what the Palace Hotel at the time.
Paul de Borman was its first President and his name is still associated with the “Borman Cup”, Belgium's unofficial junior championships.

The club was renamed "the Royal Ostend tennis Club” in 1924 and it was there that games were played not far from the thermal Institute.

Extract from the “Gidscursus 1996-1997, Plans for KOTC Ostend – by Etienne Pitteljon”.


Prior to 1900, tennis was played in Ostend, initially on lawn courts more or less interlinked by lines marked out daily in lime and thereafter in the Wellington racecourse – Chalet du Roi (Royal Lodge) – Galeries Royales, close to the “Tir aux Pigeons”(clay pigeon-shooting). Those frequenting the place on a regular basis  were all foreigners, i.e. people who owned their own homes in Ostend. That was the time the Ostend Tennis Club was formed, at the instigation of Paul de Borman, an international player and well-known tennis enthusiast all along the coast. The Ostend International tournament dates back to 1900. It enjoyed great prestige and its world reputation  remained intact until 1914.

The “ eye-opener” in the Ostend Tournament was Louise Gevers, a beginner who became champion in 1902.

The winners in the men's division were: Mr. J.G. Ritchie, Mr. C. P. Dixon, Mr.H. Parker, Mr W. le Maire de Warzee and Mr A. F. Wilding. Mr. Paul de Borman won the tournament in 1903, 1911 and 1913.

In the ladies' division, pride of place went to Mr. P. Trascenster, Miss Cooper, Miss E. Lane, Mlle M. Dufrésnoy, Miss Aitcheson and Mr. P. de Borman who won in 1909, 1911 and 1912 (she also won the international tournament in 1922).

After the 1914-1918 war, thought was given to erecting courts behind the “Galeries Royales”and calling them the “Galeries Royales Lawn Tennis Courts”. A total of fourteen courts were put up there.

That was the time the prize-winning list featured Mr. Jean Borotra, Miss Susanne Lenglen, Mr. J. Washer, Mr.J. Crawford, Mlle J. Sigart and Mr. R. Mathieu.

Texts and pictures:
R. Ostend T.C.
The Royal Belgian Lawn Tennis Federation's Visitors 'Book 1902-1952


The Ostend Tennis Tournament - the Ostend Cup

Last week the Ostend Tennis Tournament could be said to have closed on a gloriously successful note. If there is a sport identified as particularly fashionable, Lawn Tennis unquestionably fits the bill.
All in all, there are few sports as elegant as tennis and that call for greater grace.The Ostend Tournament commanded the keenest of interest in so far as it was an occasion to display the best and most reputable raquets.Interest in the Tournament peaked on the third day due to it involving two Cups: the Ladies and  the Mens. Following a nail-biting match , it was to Miss E. Lane that the Trophy was awarded, not however, without being fiercely contested by Miss Stornes, a skilful adversary. In what was strictly the Mens cup, the match between P. C. Forward, Belgium’s champion and M. Hobart, one of America’s most prestigious players was absolutely breathtaking from beginning to end. Finally, the Belgian champion Forward took the lead and triumphed over his rival by three sets to one : 6-2, 10-8, 4-6 and 6-0. Forward -Trasenster, the newly-formed Belgian team defeated everyone in Ostend, even the doubles celebrity Ritche  -Hobart.

La Vie au grand air 1903 - 28 August