THIS year’s Stellisons Junior Open was tinged with sadness as it was the first one held since the death of John Chesher earlier this year.

John had organised and refereed the tournament at Westcliff Hard Tennis Club for the past 16 years.

His passion was always for junior tennis and club chiefs paid tribute to John’s contribution over the years.

“John was steeped in tennis,” said tournament organiser Graham Broadley. “He knew the game inside-out.

“He ran this tournament for so many years and never charged a penny.

“Tennis has lost someone significant in John, someone very hard to replace.”

And club chairman Roger Hanson added: “John was very proud of the relationship he had developed between the club and local firm Stellisons.

“He wanted to help promising junior players and Stellisons were keen to help children develop at a club in the local community.

“A local firm backing a local club. John loved that idea.”

John had spearheaded many projects at The Ridgeway club and was a co-founder of the Essex league on the 1950s.

But junior tennis was his main focus and he went to great lengths to raise money for promising young players to fund their progress.

He raised many thousands for them, knowing sponsorship was key to taking children further in the game.

John also helped those at the grassroots level to develop their game.