John joined the group very early on, and was our Court Captain for several years. In those days there were just eight players, and (as now) any player who could not make it on the day was required to arrange a substitute. This was before the internet and mobile phones, and hence before emails and Facebook, so no one knew who was playing on any given Monday until we arrived at the courts. John would then make up the pairs, and we would stay with the same partner for the afternoon (three sets), and play a Round Robin (each pair playing all three other pairs in turn). This picture (3 pictures, 2 below) was taken by SM Wong on Ray Bricknell’s camera at around 7:30 on Thursday morning 28 August 2014. The same group was due to play again the following Thursday morning, but to our shock, dismay and great sadness, John Cornwell had a massive stroke on the Tuesday morning, and died the next day, aged 84.
Ralph (who was about a year older than John Cornwell) had been a lecturer at UQ, and was a very popular member of the group. For health reasons, he also stopped playing within a few months of this picture being taken, was admitted to an aged care facility a year or two later, and passed away in that facility in November 2018. He is sadly missed.
Ray did not know it at the time when this picture was taken, but he had contracted Parkinson’s Disease a year or two earlier. It particulary affected his left arm and, with the benefit of hindsight, explained why he could no longer throw the ball up twice in the same place, therefore could not put down a decent serve, and why he never seemed to be able to play at his best (which he admits was never very good). Parkinson’s affects your balance and co-ordination, and a very frustrated Ray was finally forced by its effects to give up tennis in December 2015, aged 77½. He continued as the organiser of the group (along with John Long, who did the weekly player round-up from September 2008, when Ray took a break for a hip replacement) until mid 2018, at which time Ray and John handed over the reigns completely to Barry Osborne. Ray continues as Treasurer of the group, carefully monitoring the weekly bankings, and paying for the courts and balls. Ray has no complaints – he played tennis for 70 years, from 7 to 77, and it gave him loads of pleasure and many good friends.
John Long is one of nature’s gentlemen. He joined the group whilst it was playing at UQ, and has been a tremeandous asset to it. He is not only an outstanding player, but he was a tennis coach, among other things, for 20 years and has often provided free coaching to group members who were having trouble with some aspects of their game. His contribution in doing the weekly round-up of players for the past several years has been invaluable, ensuring that as many of those who wanted a game got one. John moved to Mooloolah a few years back, and he was a great loss to the group. Our loss was Palmwood Tennis Club’s gain, as John now contributes to that group just as he did for ours, and still plays 3 or 4 times a week. It is noteworthy that when John had a problem with his right shoulder he continued playing and serving (quite adequately) with his left hand – very few people have the level of physical co-ordination required to do that!