Veteran tennis champ Dennis Hernaman dies aged 94

Dennis Hernaman was a regular at Grantham Tennis Club.
Dennis Hernaman was a regular at Grantham Tennis Club.
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Veteran tennis champion

Dennis Hernaman has sadly died, aged 94.

Mr Hernaman was a regular player at Grantham Tennis Club and his talent saw him travel around the world for the England Veterans’ Tennis Team, competing well into his 90s.

Upon leaving school he joined the Royal Navy and, as captain of a mine sweeper, picked up a taste for travel.

He joined the Bank of India which took him to Tanzania, India, Pakistan, Zambia and more. His love of tennis led to him meeting his future wife, Sandy, at a tennis club in Dar-es-Salaam. In his youth he twice won the East Africa Cup and the Calcutta Tennis Championship.

He lived in Manthorpe for the last 25 years and was a keen supporter of Grantham Tennis Club.

His daughter Mary Greenfield said: “Most Boxing Days involved a large family game of tennis where all Dennis’ grandchildren would delight on taking on grandpa.

“Occasionally, as their game improved, they would get the odd game off him.”

Mr Hernaman died peacefully following a short illness on August 1. He leaves a wife, four children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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Dennis Hernaman

He was born in London in 1918, and sadly lost his father at the age of 3. He was brought up by his mother, grandmother and aunt. His mother got him a place at an unusual school which was a private school for orphans, The Royal Wanstead School.

Despite the sad circumstances, he was very happy at this school and made many life long friends. After school he joined the navy as captain of a mine sweeper, where he picked up his enthusiasm for travel.

As Captain of the mine sweeper he was mainly stationed in the Mediterranean at Alexandria and Taormina in Sicily. When his grandsons were old enough, he delighted them with stories of his romantic conquests in both ports! His film-star good looks meant he was always a hit with the ladies.

After the war, He had a brief spell in the City as a stock broker. An uncle of his who had connections in banking got him a position working on board the glamorous liner The Queen Mary and The Queen Elizabeth. He travelled between London and New York for two years in charge of banking services on board both ships. After that he joined the Bank of India where he his first posting took him to Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania. It is here that he met his future wife Shandy at the tennis club. She was working for the Colonial and Foreign Office. They spent the next few years enjoying different postings in India, Pakistan, Aden and Kenya.

He was then appointed as General Manager for the Bank in for Zambia.

In all these countries, Dennis and his wife enjoyed meeting and getting to know the different cultures of each place. They made friends with Arab Sheikhs, Indian business men, Russian diplomats and many others. They continued a lively correspondence with many of their friends from different countries for years and years.

His love and enthusiasm for tennis has been a life long interest, starting as a young boy, playing in his local club in North London with his mother also a keen player and his step father. He twice won the East Africa Cup, and the Calcutta Tennis Championship two years running. He was a keen golfer and sailing enthusiast.

He took up sailing when the family were posted to Aden. In those days Aden was a major port for ships, here he loved taking us children out in his boat weaving his dingy through the massive tankers and liners docked in the harbour until we reached the open shark infested sea. Undaunted we would sail into one of the many isolated beaches, and enjoy delicious picnics. Picnics at midnight under an August moon were also enjoyed watching turtles come up on the beach to lay their eggs.

Dennis travelled with his family to Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti for local holidays. Returning to England for 6 month breaks to see family and friends.

After an enjoyable life in banking, he and his wife came to settle in England in South Lincolnshire, firstly in Hawthorpe then in the last 25 years in Manthorpe. He was treasurer of the South Lincolnshire branch of the Red Cross for many years and also a director of the south Lincolnshire enterprise scheme which was to help set up small businesses.

He never stopped playing tennis and became a member of the England Veterans Tennis team where he represented England all over the world. Playing in Australia, America and many countries in Europe. He was a keen supporter of the Grantham Tennis Club, where he loved to watch the young members of the club improve their game.

Most Boxing Days in the family involved a large family game of tennis, weather permitting, where all Dennis’s grandchildren would delight on taking on Grandpa! Occasionally as their game improved they would get the odd game off him!