A tennis team of alumni from Repton School served up another successful win this autumn at an annual “Old Boys” competition for public school leavers. Sept. 4, 2022 saw the Old Reptonian Tennis Society crowned the D’Abernon Cup winners for the fifth time in six years. Repton’s Director of Tennis James Rushby says the win, along with the continued passion of its alumni players, highlights the strength of the School’s tennis programme, which has recently earned Repton recognition from Which? as one of the top six tennis schools in the country.
The D’Abernon Cup and Lawn Tennis
Founded in 1929 by Viscount D’Abernon, the Public School Old Boys’ Lawn Tennis Association’s (PSOBLTA) first president, the annual D’Abernon Cup sought to encourage the game of tennis among public school alumni. PSOBLTA promotes lawn tennis at schools, keeping close contact with the Independent Schools Lawn Tennis Association and often arranging matches, tournaments, and other fixtures, including the D’Abernon Cup.
Today, the tournament is still fiercely contested, featuring a knockout competition that culminates in the cup final each September. The 2022 finals took place at Wimbledon and saw the Old Reptonians team, consisting of Jamie Muirhead, Richard Harrison, Dan Cottier, Dom Lea, Patrick Foley, and Alex Grocott, defeat Bromsgrove with a hefty eight match wins.
Repton School’s Tennis History
Repton, a pre-eminent, independent boarding school in Derbyshire, has an impressive reputation for shaping top tennis players. Among them: H F Lawford, winner of the Wimbledon Men’s Singles championship in 1887, and H W “Bunny” Austin, who twice reached the Wimbledon Men’s Singles final in the 1930s — he was the last Briton to do so until Andy Murray in 2012.
That great tradition has continued into the 21st century, with the School boasting a strong tennis programme and a track record of consistently producing county and national standard players. Repton has won the Independent Schools’ Championship 15 times, the Boys’ National Schools’ Championship 11 times, and the Girls’ National Schools Championship on 4 occasions.
In summer 2022, WhichSchoolAdvisor included Repton on a list of six of the UK’s leading schools for talented young tennis players who may be on the path to a professional tennis career. The guide mentioned Repton alongside schools like Queenswood, a specialist tennis school for girls, Reed’s, which has its own tennis academy, and Millfield, a top contender for educating future Olympians.
Tennis as a Focus Sport at Repton School
Tennis is one of the six focus sports at Repton; the others are cricket, football, hockey, netball, and swimming. Parents and students seek out Repton due to the School’s reputation for having the resources to realise ability and ambition in budding tennis stars.
Former world-ranked player James Rushby leads the Repton tennis programme as its director. The extensive programme caters to all levels of players and includes an Elite, Performance, and Development Squad. The Elite Squad trains daily, enjoys international rankings, and travels on the International Tennis Federation and Tennis Europe circuits. The Performance Squad comprises students who have the potential to become county, regional, or national standard players, while the Development Squad is for players of all ages and abilities.
All three groups train during the Michaelmas and Lent terms but, come the summer term, only Elite and Performance Squads continue. Tennis is the main sport for girls in the summer, and each year group has a full programme of practice and inter-school matches. Boys’ tennis also sees Senior and Junior Squads play matches against other schools.
To cater to the busy tennis programme, Repton offers extensive, high-quality facilities. Alongside numerous all-weather courts — 2 indoor acrylic and 12 outdoor — the School has a fitness suite, cutting-edge strength and conditioning suite, video room, and re-string service.
Old Reptonians’ Lifelong Love for Tennis
In recent years, partnerships with county tennis programmes, along with a link to U.S. universities through specialist agencies, have seen the wider world of tennis open up for Repton alumni who go on to pursue tennis as a profession once they leave school. Even if they don’t become top-ranked players on the world stage, it’s clear from the success of the recent D’Abernon Cup win that Reptonians develop a love for the sport that continues long after their school days.
Rushby congratulated the Old Reptonians’ recent victory at Wimbledon and noted how the team’s success over the last few years highlights Repton’s thriving tennis community. He said: “This is another great result for the Old Reptonian team that demonstrates the strength and depth of the tennis programme that feeds into alumni tennis.
“It is amazing to see Old Reptonians travel from different areas of the country to play in the D’Abernon Cup and it shows the pride they have to continue to represent the School.”
About Repton School
Repton School is a world-renowned, co-educational boarding and day school in the rural village of Repton, Derbyshire. Founded in 1557, Repton is one of the UK’s oldest learning institutions and carefully blends centuries of educational excellence and traditional values with a thoroughly modern, forward-facing outlook. Outstanding facilities, intimate class sizes, and attentive pastoral care ensure all students enjoy an exceptionally high standard of education and achieve their best across academia, sports, liberal arts, music, and more.
Repton has a long history of sporting excellence. Famous Old Reptonians who have left their mark on the sporting world include Olympic gold medalist Harold Abrahams CBE, English tennis player “Bunny” Austin, England cricket captain and author C B Fry, and, more recently, champion hockey player Georgie Twigg, whose team won gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
Thanks to a range of scholarships and bursaries that recognise academic ability and talent in areas such as sport, music, and drama, a Repton education is available to many young people who may otherwise not be able to attend an independent school.
Repton’s key values of wholeness, truth, respect, and excellence maintain a top standard of education and a caring, supportive community. Reptonians grow into grounded, rounded, and unbounded young people ready to make the most of their futures and equipped with a winning combination of top exam results and valuable life skills.