HRH Prince Edward went through his paces at Moreton Morrell Real Tennis court on Monday before a fundraising dinner at Leamington Real Tennis Club as he continued his world tour to generate support for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
Through his ‘Tennis Challenge 2018’, the Earl of Wessex, himself a keen player and ambassador for the sport, aims to play at every club in the world, including on all Britain’s 27 courts.
Now nearing the end of his tour, which is tipped to raise around £2 million, he watched youngsters from schools including Kineton High and Warwick School trying their hand at the game.
He then took part in three hard-fought doubles matches with club members and partnered teenager Vaughan Hamilton from Moreton Morrell, a top junior international.
The pair narrowly defeated Alan Moug and Mark Maclure 8-6 in an entertaining encounter, Prince Edward delighting the packed gallery with a screaming volley winner which was dubbed ‘the shot of the match’.
“There’s a brilliant tennis player in here, trying to get out of a mediocre body,” he said afterwards. “I’ll remember that shot for a very long time.”
Afterwards, the Prince presented certificates to the players and a special commemorative racket to the club, in royal purple and bearing his personal cipher.
He explained how he took up real tennis during his time at Cambridge University as part of his own Duke of Edinburgh gold award, after some brutal knocks on the rugby field, thanks to his royal status.
“When I was playing rugby, some of the other students took a great delight in flattening me the moment I got anywhere near the ball.” he said. “It got quite painful, so instead I decided to find the most gentlemanly game I could - and became passionate about real tennis.”
He represented the university at the game and now his son, James, Viscount Severn has just started playing, too.
After the visit, the Earl attended a fund-raising dinner at Leamington Real Tennis Club, before a further series of matches in Leamington on Tuesday.