Nancye Trigellis-Smith

Nance Trigellis-Smith played on Wednesday & Thursday afternoons at South Hawthorn for 50 years.

Nance grew up in East St Kilda and began playing tennis with her cousin and uncle while on holidays at Sorrento. Membership at Sorrento was a princely 5 shillings at the time, so she joined up and played every day of her holidays. Back in Melbourne she played with St Stephen’s in Caufield and also played netball, which she played and umpired for many years. Nance went to school at St Margaret’s in the old Stonnington Estate. She finished her honours year at school, then did a Dip-Ed at Melbourne University. During the war St Margaret’s was used by the army, so the school moved to Mayfield Avenue before going out to Berwick.

Nance remembers University vacations during WWII. With so many away Uni students were expected to work. She worked picking fruit on a farm just out of Shepparton. The highlight of her week was on a Saturday when they picked fruit from 6-9am then rode bikes into town, where they went to the shops, swam in the river and then got dressed up for a dance, before riding home at midnight. She also remembers volunteering at Scots church in the city serving tea and mince on toast to servicemen on leave including many American soldiers.

Nance married Syd Trigellis-Smith in 1948 and they had three children, Allan, Ewen and Angela. They moved to a house Leura Grove in 1956, where she still lives today. When they first lived in Leura Grove, their milk and bread were delivered each morning by horse and cart.

Syd’s parents, John (Jack) Augustus Smith and Beryl Sampson had met in New Guinea. Beryl had been a nurse in WWI and then joined the Expeditionary Force, which fought in New Guinea (a German territory), where she met Jack who was with the Australian Navy.  When they married, Beryl didn’t want to be a plain “Smith” so the Trigellis-Smith name began, no-one is sure how they came up with the Trigellis part. They lived in New Guinea for many years, coming back to Australia to have Syd before returning and managing a plantation. Some years later they returned to Australia, though Jack returned to New Guinea later.

When Syd and Nance moved to Leura Grove and with the children all at Auburn South, Nance was able to join a social tennis group at South Hawthorn in 1956.  The group included some older members, such as Lill Joyce, Win Collins, Verna Moorcroft, Kath Schofield, Frances McCallum, Beverley Ashton, Marie McLoghlin and Madge Seville. Other players who had played weekend competition also joined the group. Marion Smylie and Vera Bascomb were very good players who played on Wednesdays. Nance remembers Vera Bascomb as a very intelligent woman and a good tennis player. Many of Nance’s contemporaries, had grown up in the depression and with finances tight had to leave school early. Careers for Women were not the norm at the time. Nance considers herself lucky to have been able to attend University and have her own career, when many of her friends were not able to. In 1963 Melbourne Girls Grammar School offered Nance a part time job and though Syd was not entirely sure about her working, Nance took the offer. In those days teachers at some private schools finished early one day a week, allowing Nance to rush back to South Hawthorn and continue her part in the Wednesday social group.

The social tennis was not too serious, although there was not much talking on the courts. A modest afternoon tea followed the tennis, with the girls bringing something from the fridge, such as a piece of cake or two, or some sandwiches. Some of the women had children at Auburn South Primary and after school the kids would walk up to the club and happily occupy themselves in the play ground until the Mums finished their game.  Early on, other girls joined the group, such as Lola Young, Norma Riley and Billie White. Billie was a very proud Aunt of Barry Humphries and the group was kept well informed of his achievements and adventures. She was also a very crafty player with a very tricky sliced backhand drop shot. She was always immaculately presented and a gracious woman. Nance remembers Marie McLoghlin as a wonderful person taken way too young.

Nance remembers Keith and Lola Young, “running” the club for many years. Keith as President and Lola as Social organiser were involved in everything to do with the club. In her later years Lola never ceases to amaze Nance with her ability to master new technology like computers and video recorders etc. She also remembers Eric McLoghlin working very hard for the club and getting a lot done as President.

In later years the group merged with the Thursday social group to keep numbers up. The new group included men ( a refreshing change ) with Don and Ken Curnick, Don Mann and Barry McLoghlin, as well as Brian and Fran Burzacott. Later others such as Dulcie Thomson, and Michael and Nina Macgeorge played with the group.

The group no longer plays tennis but still gets together several times a year and remembers their years of tennis and friendship at South Hawthorn Tennis Club.