Just ace, Christine

Christine Lawrie awarded long service trophy from Tennis Scotland.
Christine Lawrie awarded long service trophy from Tennis Scotland.
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FROM being a little girl with an intense dislike of all thing sporty, the region’s first lady of tennis, Christine Lawrie, has come a long way.

And for the last four decades the St Boswells ace has dedicated a massive part of her life to the sport she loves so much.

That dedication was rewarded last week when the sport’s governing body in Scotland recognised Christine’s achievements in various capacities at club, district, county and national levels by presenting her with the award in recognition of voluntary services to tennis in Scotland – Tennis Scotland’s top annual award for long service.

A long way indeed, from the days when Christine fibbed about the colour of her underwear to get out of PE.

She told TheSouthern: “When I was a wee girl I loved hitting a ball against the wall of my house, but when I went to school I took a disliking to my gym teacher resulting in me hating gym with a passion.

“I used to just say that I had forgot my navy knickers which was what we wore for gym in those days. She put up with it for so long until one day she told me to do a handstand. I said I didn’t want to, but she made me do it eventually and of course I was found out.

“I got the belt, so understandably I never developed a liking for sport at school, but I continued to hit that ball against the wall and in doing so developed a real passion for tennis.”

From the wall, Christine developed on to playing over her neighbours fence with a friend – “we thought we were at Wimbledon,” she said – and in her third year of high school she progressed to real courts. But it wasn’t until 1974 that she began to play for a ladies’ team and it was her husband Roy who talked her into it.

“Someone came and asked if I would play for the ladies’ team. I didn’t think I could do it, but Roy told me that he would be disappointed if the ladies lost the match because they couldn’t get a sixth player, so I agreed,” she explained.

“The rest is history. Paul, my eldest son began to play and I went down to Hawick with him for the coaching where I met Madge and Bob Elliot. I wanted to see how it was done properly as I had never been coached. Madge then phoned me and talked me into taking part in a coaching course, which I did, and passed, and from there on everything else just seemed to happen.”

Included on Christines impressive CV are her presidential roles with Tennis Scotland, Tennis Borders District and St Boswells LTA, where she has also served on many various committees while undertaking equally numerous functions such as coaching, training, selection and marketing.

More locally, Christine has been behind many great changes in Borders tennis. She was instrumental in fundraising for three new all-weather courts at St Boswells in 1995 and while she was district president she helped form Borders District Tennis Coaches’ Association.

She set up the Borders Junior Management Committee in 1993 and led in the appointment of first district coach and first district tennis co-ordinator, and introduced additional junior and veterans’ district competitions.

Probably Christine’s most enjoyable role has been helping with district performance coaching in the late 1970s to mid 80s and coaching annual district grass roots sessions for more than 30 years at eight different Borders towns and villages.

“It’s great being able to introduce youngsters to tennis and watch them as they discover a love for the sport and an aptitude for it,” she said.

Christine is still the immediate past president of the governing body and was presented with her most recent award by current president Christine Windmill.

Christine added: “It was completely unexpected but fantastic, especially as she also mentioned my husband Roy, without whose help and support I couldn’t have done nearly as much and to whom I gave the bottle of champagne which was presented to me by the Tennis Scotland vice-president, Ian Conway.”

This special award for volunteers was presented by the honorary vice-presidents of Tennis Scotland in 2000 and, to date, the only other Borders recipient has been Denice Pryde of Peebles (who, with a lady from East Lothian, was a joint recipient in 2003) in recognition of the great work she had undertaken for many years at her own club and for grass roots tennis, which she still organises annually.

An LTA accredited referee, Christine intends to continue her involvement in the game for many years to come and on Sunday will take time away from the region when she will be keeping her fingers crossed that the rain stays away for her visit to Wimbledon, where she has a centre court seat.

As well as her tennis, Christine enjoys family life, travelling, snorkelling, following cricket and some rugby. She has been a member of the church since she was a teenager and has been a member of the local drama club since 1965.