In 1986, Negociants New Zealand and Champagne Bollinger became partners with Pompallier Lawn Tennis Club in Auckland’s St Mary’s Bay. The inaugural Champagne Bollinger Licenced Trade Tennis Tournament was held the following year.
The event was subsequently extended to Wellington’s Thorndon Club and then to Christchurch’s Elmwood Club, with the national finals rotating through the three centres, year on year.
We were once asked why we didn’t run the tournaments in the more grandiose setting of the ASB tennis centre in Auckland or the Capital’s Renouf Centre. The reality is that we like the charm, character and intimacy of these smaller but professionally run clubs, where everyone gets to brush shoulders with everyone else and spectators can watch the action on all courts simultaneously.
Among many highlights, was the all ladies pair of Annie and Glenis from The French Café taking out the championship. More recently, the President and the Export Director of Champagne Bollinger did the unthinkable and instead of throwing the final match, made absolutely certain that they came out as winning champions, all achieved with good grace, humour and a cheeky French smile.
Thirty years on and Bollinger, Negociants, Pompallier, Thorndon and Elmwood clubs are all going strong; we’d also hazard a guess that the Bollinger/Pompallier relationship is presently the longest standing wine and sport sponsorship arrangement in the country.
There have been too many highlights and amusing happenings to include here, so for now, join us on a trip down Memory Lane as we reflect on the Champagne Bollinger Tennis Tournament, with a few pictures before we became digital.
- Clive Weston, Managing Director