The John Rice Story

Posted 02 Oct 2015

John Rice was an EBAT and general tennis fanatic who sadly passed away in June after a battle with prostate cancer. This is a story written by his good friend Matthew Watson about how John and his family have supported Bally’s academy.

I (Matthew Watson) wanted to share this story with you all because John’s family and friends made donations at John’s funeral to The Elena Baltacha Foundation and have raised £1,085.00 between the just giving page and cheques.

The link I have with the academy and the fact John was keen tennis player and Ipswich Town FC fan (who of course Elena’s father played for) John’s family decided it would be what John would have wanted.

I first met John some time ago as child, he was a friend of my fathers I became closer with John whilst having a few family problems as teenager, he was a real support to me growing up and was a dear friend to the end.

John helped me develop my tennis by inviting me to play and practice with the adult players at our local tennis club, he would often drive me to tennis within the Colchester area because I didn’t have any transport, this time together gave us plenty of opportunity to compare tactics and just talk about tennis! I also played a number of matches with John at age 14 playing in the Kirby Tennis Club men’s teams.

John was real influence in my life and in tennis, if it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t be coaching tennis today.

John was a keen tennis and table tennis player who played competitive league tennis for 50 years . He was also an avid Ipswich Town FC fan like his father, in fact the whole family have held season tickets at the club for a number of years.

He volunteered at Kirby tennis club for over 50 years being a Committee Member, Team Captain, Men’s Captain and also Tennis League Contact for both the Colchester and Essex leagues.

In 2012 I nominated John for the BNP Paribas Lifetime Achievement award from the Lawn tennis association for his voluntary services to tennis, which unsurprisingly to all who knew him, he won. The award was given out at ATP World Tour Finals in London at the O2 Arena. John and his son Paul were given a VIP package to watch the tennis after the awards ceremony which must have just been ace (forgive the pun!)

Since John’s passing earlier this year, Kirby Tennis Club have named the club house after him in his memory and
The Colcheter and District League have also spoken about naming a tennis league, tournament cup after him, which are both very touching tributes.

John is sorely missed by all his family, friends, tennis players, table tennis players and anyone who knew him. Tennis in Essex will not be the same without him.

We hope that John’s Memory will live on through the work the Foundation are doing by giving youngsters the chance to play tennis.

NB: On behalf of all the staff, coaches, trustees, players and parents, we would like to extend our condolences and an enormous thank you to John’s family and friends who so kindly donated to our Foundation.