This article is a glimpse at a place and time we read little about-Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in the 1960s.
Zim's great tennis gift to Britain
Austin Karonga • 2 August 2014 12:39PM
Jenny Waggot, the former Zimbabwe tennis ace, is saddened to miss her granddaughter making her debut at Harare Sports Club during next week’s ITF international tennis event.
Waggot was a singles junior and senior champion for Zimbabwe, Rhodesia as it was then, on the very same courts of Harare Sports Club her young granddaughter will be playing on – albeit in South African colours.
Local-born Waggot was schooled at Girls High School in Harare before leaving the country to live in the UK with her Briton husband Ian Waggot.
She played in the British Masters team for many years, and even now, at the ripe age of 70, she still represents Great Britain in that category.When she first represented Britain, the other team members were both Wimbledon champions, Virginia Wade and Ann Haydn-Jones.
Waggot is a veterans’ champion and tennis coach for 30 years.
She has won the Wimbledon veterans championship twice at singles and doubles.
She is part of the current Great Britain ladies team that won the international world trophy for two years in succession.
The courts at Harare Sports Club are laden with good memories for the 70-year-old veteran, for not only did she make her mark there, but also watched her parents play there during her childhood days.
Waggot’s father, Dudley “Podge” Morris, was a national champion while her three sisters Elizabeth, Jennifer and Fiona all came through from Girls High School and thereafter to HSC in national events.
“Podge” Morris played all his international tennis on the same HSC courts.
He played in 1947 against Britain and in 1950 against America when the main attraction was Vic Seixas, who became Wimbledon champion in 1953.
During that period, there were 47 clubs and 2,000 registered players in the country in 1947.
“I have many memories of watching dad and mummy playing under the fir trees and then watching us and encouraging us throughout our lives and never put pressure on us,” Waggot tells the Daily News
from the UK.
One of the high points of Waggot’s tennis at HSC was when she and her sister Fiona (now Mackenzie) played doubles against two Wimbledon champions, Yvone Goolagong of Australia and Britain’s Margaret Court.
"That was pretty scary and pretty special too,” she says.
Waggot is currently the resident coach at the Warwick Boat Club in the UK and in April was honoured with the Tustains sporting heroine award.
The tennis captain at the club, Tony Baker, described her as a hard worker while conferring her with the accolade.
“She’s modest, very hard working, and a real inspiration to all who have the privilege to know her. Although now over 70 she doesn’t seem to know the words ‘slow down’,” said Baker.
Waggot and her Warwick Boat Club counterparts make up part of the team that has won the over 60’s European club trophy twice.
Her granddaughter, 15-year-old Nicole Petchy, is set to make her debut at the Harare Sports Club courts next week.
Nicole is the daughter of Mark Petchey, the former British Davis Cup player, former coach of Andy Murray and now an international tennis TV commentator.
While Nicole will be representing South Africa at next week’s event at Harare Sports Club, she has great roots with Zimbabwe and a great tennis heritage.
She will be following in the footsteps of her great-grand-father Podge, and her grand-mother Waggot who both were champions in this country.
Waggot, however, said Nicole is still young, not yet a Wimbledon champion and probably would want to further her studies first hence she must not be under any pressure to perform beyond her limit.
“She just loves the game and so enjoys tennis, but not a Wimbledon champion yet,” added Waggot.
“I am so proud of her and just wish I could see her play at Harare Sports Club, really jealous about that.”