Hassell preparing for her 60th Framlingham Tennis Tournament

Joan Hassell, left, with Yvonne Durham (nee Grimwade) after Joan won the Suffolk Ladies Singles at

Joan Hassell, left, with Yvonne Durham (nee Grimwade) after Joan won the Suffolk Ladies Singles at Framlingham in 1967. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Suffolk tennis legend Joan Hassell is preparing for her 60th Framlingham tournament. Oh, and she also happens to be a world champion. Terry Hunt talked to her ahead of the 2018 event, which runs next week

Jez Cowley in action at the Framlingham Tennis Tournament in 2017. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Jez Cowley in action at the Framlingham Tennis Tournament in 2017. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Do you know Suffolk has a tennis world champion? I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I didn’t - until I met the remarkable Joan Hassell.

I chatted to 77-year-old Joan about her 60th appearance at the Framlingham Tennis Tournament, which takes place next week.

That is extraordinary enough, but when Joan casually mentioned in conversation that she had also held a world title, I had to find out just a little more about that!

It happened three years ago, when Joan was 75, and she and her partner won their age group ladies doubles in the Super-Seniors World Team Championships in Croatia.

Framlingham Tennis Tournament is one of the oldest in the country. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Framlingham Tennis Tournament is one of the oldest in the country. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown


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It is an achievement which Joan singles out as the highlight of her long and highly successful tennis career. Her first trophy came at the Felixstowe tournament, when she won the under-15 title.

But let’s focus on the Framlingham Tennis Tournament, where it’s no exaggeration to describe Joan as a legend. This will be her 60th appearance at what is Britain’s second longest established tennis event, after a low-profile tournament called Wimbledon.

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In six decades of competing at Framlingham, she has won the Suffolk Singles ladies’ title no fewer than eight times, the ladies’ doubles eight times, and the open event twice. A formidable record!

Even in her late 70s, she’s still winning trophies at Framlingham, capturing the over-40s mixed doubles last year with her son-in-law, Nicky Giles.

Katie Tassell in action at Framlingham last year. Picture: NIGE BROWN

Katie Tassell in action at Framlingham last year. Picture: NIGE BROWN - Credit: Archant

So what makes Framlingham so special? “There are lots of reasons,” says Joan, who lives near Ipswich, “It’s very friendly, and attracts people from all walks of life from all over the county and beyond.

“People come along and they all get on. It is as much a social event as a tennis tournament! Then there’s the beautiful setting (the tournament takes place at Framlingham College) and the facilities improve every year.”

Joan’s three grandchildren go to the tournament, and a quote from one of them summed up how they feel about the tournament: “I don’t want Framlingham to ever end.”

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