Real Tennis and Squash
Canford Real Tennis Club
- Location and Contact Details
- Opening Times
- Membership and Fees
- How to book
- Rules of play
- Club History
- Club Officers
Established in 1879, a premier Real tennis club, one of only 47 Real tennis courts in the world, with over 100 members, excellent facilities and experienced club professionals. Today the court is actively used by both Canford pupils and by its outside club members. Every pupil is given the opportunity to experience Real tennis, they can then choose to play it either as a voluntary activity or occasionally as a main sport.
We are a friendly and social club and welcome players of all abilities. Our two professionals are always at hand to help guide you through the intricacies of the game and the array of club activities available throughout the year.
We really want you to feel comfortable and enjoy your time at Canford, with a chance to improve and have fun on court, as well as meet an eclectic group of new people.
If you would like to give real tennis a go we offer a FREE introductory lesson, just contact James or Vaughan to find out more:
Phone: 01202 847523
Location and Contact Details
Canford Real Tennis and Squash Club
Please use the second entrance to Canford School, along Canford Magna Road (not the Main School entrance). Turn immediately right into a small car park and go through the big blue door.
If you would like further details, then please contact James at:
Email Canford Real Tennis and Squash Club
Phone: 01202 847523
Membership and Fees
Introductory Offer: 1st Lesson FREE!
Enjoyed it? Have two more lessons and two games for just £60 (£30 saved)
|Current Membership Fees|
|Country (must reside 35 miles away from the club and play no more than once a month)||£50.00|
|Student (Under 28)||£30.00|
|Junior (Under 18)||£20.00|
|Court Fees and Lessons (per hour)|
|Adult Singles (per person)||£10.00|
|Adult Doubles (per person)||£6.50|
|Junior Singles (per person)||£6.50|
|Junior Doubles (per person)||£4.00|
|Uninstructed game with Head Professional||£31.50|
|Lesson with Head Professional||£36.50|
|Uninstructed game with Assistant Professional||£31.50|
|Lesson with Assistant Professional||£31.50|
|Additional Guest Fee||£3.00|
|White Standard Racket||£175.00|
|Black CLX Pro Racket||£275.00|
|Club Polo Shirt||£30.00|
All enquiries are welcome, please contact:
Contact: James Ryan
Phone: 01202 847523
How to book
Once you become a Canford and Tennis and Rackets Association member, you will have access the online booking system:
Real Tennis Online Booking System
Similar to golf, you will be given a handicap, which will initially be a rough reflection of your ability level.
You will be given a username and password, and be able to book yourself in on a day and time that suits you. You can either book in against another person of a similar handicap or book in a slot by yourself and your club professionals will find you a suitable opponent.
You simply add in your result after your match through the online booking system. Every match you play can count towards your handicap and world ranking!
Rules of play
The first thing you will notice is that the court is very different to the tennis courts that you are familiar with. In addition the balls are solid and are handmade here at Canford. To cope with the weight of the ball, the wooden rackets need to be equally weighty and robust (graphite rackets are banned!).
The next thing you will notice when you watch a game is that the players do not hit topspin as they do in the modern game. Topspin makes the ball rise off the back wall making it easier for the opponent to get the ball back.
As in normal tennis, the court is divided by a net into two ends. The end from which you are viewing is called the Service end. The service is always delivered from this end and must be hit onto the sloping roof on the left called the penthouse. The far side of the court is called the Hazard end.
The basic objective of the game is to return the ball either after the first bounce or on the volley. Points are lost when errors are made (e.g. by hitting the ball into the net or out of court). Points may however also be won by hitting the ball into one of the winning openings . These are the dedans (the opening through which you can see the below photo is taken), the grille, (the blue square in the far right of the court) and the the winning gallery (the furthest opening on the left, and yes it does have a bell in it!). Scoring in Real Tennis is the same as that adopted by its younger relation (i.e. 15, 30, 40, deuce, advantage, game) except that in Real Tennis the winner of the last point is always called first. The first player to reach six games wins the set, even if the other player has won five games.
The major difference between the two games is the chase. If the ball bounces twice or enters one of the galleries in the service end a “chase” is laid. Neither player wins the rally and the point is suspended. When two chases are created, or game point is reached with one chase, the players change ends. Then the suspended point(s) are replayed and decided. To win the point the receiver must better his opponents chase by getting the second bounce nearer to the dedans.
The basic strategy of the game is to dominate the service end. The only way for a player to gain the service end is to set a chase (the players never change ends at the end of the game).
Canford’s first tennis court was mentioned in a 1541 document describing the ‘Cituation of the house and manor of Canford’.
After 1776, the medieval buildings (apart from ‘John o’Gaunts kitchen’, which still stands) were replaced by a mansion, and this was greatly enlarged after Sir John Josiah Guest bought the Dorset manor in 1845. The second baronet, Sir Ivor Bertie Guest, later Lord Wimborne, had both a tennis and rackets court built in the grounds in 1879.
The tennis court was renovated in 1913 and a new floor installed, but the Rackets court fell into disrepair and converted into two squash courts in 1962.
Canford School was founded in 1923, with the first resident professional, Edward Johnson, teaching the game to a handful of boys.
During the 1930s, this fixture list was extended and the master-in-charge, W.S. Strain, devoted much time taking boys to play other courts. G.H. Holman arrived as professional in 1933, and in 1935 W.D. Whiston became the first Canfordian to win a Tennis blue from Cambridge.
There was no competitive play during the war, as American Serviceman occupied that part of the school near the tennis court.
The roof had been restored in 1935 by Lord Aberdale and others, but was battered in the war and severe gales continued to take their toll. Strain and Holman worked on after the war to revive the game, and the court was much restored in 1952.
By then, J.T. Hankinson had taken over as master-in-charge, and Malcolm Taylor, the school’s cricket professional, had been trained at Lord’s to move into tennis. He was replaced in 1969 by Hampshire’s former Test cricketer Derek Shackleton.
John Boys became master-in-charge in 1973, the golden jubilee of the school’s foundation, which was marked by the complete re-decoration and re-equipment of the dedans by the Old Canfordian Society.
In 1980, the Canford Real Tennis Club was formed, opening up the court to outside players. Rob Bartlett was appointed and able to earn part of his living by forming a club for local enthusiasts.
He was succeeded at Canford by Steve Ronaldson, under whose long tenure of office both the club and the school have developed greatly, hosting several national events. A series of talented assistants have given excellent support, including Austin Snelgrove, who went on to become the first professional at the new Prince’s Club in Washington, and Darren Long, who has recently entered the top 10 ranked players in the world.
Over the years, the Club have funded many improvements to the tennis facilities, including comfortable furniture in the dedans, partitioned from the court; a kitchen area, changing rooms and the recent addition of new LED lighting with automatic sensors.
Today the court is continuing to thrive and is actively used by both Canford pupils and over 100 outside club members.
The J.T. Faber Book of Tennis and Rackets by Lord Aberdale (2001)
Canford Squash Club
The squash club is in an idyllic setting within the grounds of Canford School. We have four excellent squash courts and club facilities, including changing rooms, showers and a car park.
We have over 40 pupils involved in squash over the autumn and winter terms, as well as an active outside membership involved in both squash and racketball, with club nights, team and social matches played throughout the year.
We are a friendly and social club and welcome players of all standards. Please get in touch if you have any questions, our professional, James Ryan, is always around to help.
Phone: 01202 847523
prices and booking
There are three ways to play squash at Canford…
1) You can pay-and-play, simply turn up with pound coins and put them in the meters by the courts (£6 = 42 minutes); the lights will automatically come on. We kindly request all players join our online booking system to ensure we know who is in the building.
Canford Squash Club Booking & Availability
2) You can use our online booking system for £20.00 per year, we will then give you a username and password to book in when you wish. You can then pay-and-play as above.
3) You can become a member for an additional £60.00 for the year, allowing you to come to club nights (Tuesdays and Fridays from 5.45 - 7.15pm) for free and join in with team squash if you wish.
Club Nights are a friendly way to meet new players of a variety of standards; both squash and racketball are available.
You can also be added into the ‘Club Night WhatsApp Group’ to see who will be attending.
Tuesdays: 5.45 - 7.15pm (most popular)
Fridays: 5.45 - 7.15pm
Free to members and £5.00 for non-members.
Team Squash and Racketball
We have two squash (5 players) and two racketball (4 players) teams in the Dorset Leagues, where you get a chance to play against other clubs in the local area.
If you are interested in being involved then please email:
James Ryan - Real Tennis and Squash Head Professional
Qualified Level 2 England Squash Coach
Squash and racketball (Squash57) coaching available for all standards.
£24.00 per 45 minute lesson (includes court fee)
For all lesson enquiries, please email: