Given that Bedfordshire borders Cambridgeshire, our President could have chosen nearly any date for a short visit to the county. He happened to settle on the wettest two October days in recent memory – but nevertheless we managed to see a fair selection of the venues and volunteers that help to keep Cambridgeshire tennis functioning through rain and sun. Friday 2 October commenced in late afternoon with a visit to Cocks & Hens Tennis Club located in the Newnham outskirts of Cambridge. This old-established club was forced to relocate from its more central Cambridge location in 2015 owing to Trinity College repossessing their former site for residential development (aka making loads more money). In fairness, Trinity found a new site with more space and constructed eight courts and a club house to replace the former club facilities. The club under its current Chair Guy Seaborn and Head Coach Justin Layne have recently fitted out all courts with LED floodlighting. David together with the Chair of Trustees of the club, Barrie Hunt, switched them on for the first time – disappointingly to empty courts and a steady downpour! Plans are being considered to add up to four more hard courts. Two grass courts are being prepared for 2021 with assistance from the groundsman from Pembroke College sports ground located nearby. In the course of this visit David (who was accompanied by Brenda) also presented club and county stalwart Barrie Hunt with his LTA County Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Justin Layne did take to the very wet court with one keen junior player to test out the new LED floodlights. They were very impressed with the improved visibility and the entire gathering is sure this upgrade will lead to a further increase in membership.
The rain continued to fall on Friday evening and it was time to look at some junior tennis indoors at Hills Road Tennis Centre Cambridge. This facility of four indoor and six outdoor courts plays host to a Junior Performance Centre run by local coaching organisation Over & In. David and Brenda met with coaches Hamid Hejazi, Sue Rich and Chris Little and watched some training for young players from 12-18. They also had the opportunity to speak to a few parents who were very complimentary about the standard of coaching and development being offered to their children. There are some very promising juniors in the county who have been training hard since May – and who competed in the County Closed event, marketed as the Cambridgeshire Festival of Tennis. This attracted a creditable 160 players, 249 entries and 336 matches in 18 events. They are all looking forward to a time when they can regularly compete in tournaments and county events.
Mark and Dawn Sanders joined David and Brenda for a relaxed and enjoyable dinner, which inevitably included more tennis talk before returning home in anticipation of a busy itinerary on the following day. Saturday 3 October started at just after 8 am with arguably the most important part of the visit, a match at Cambridge LTC which pitted David and Mark against the cream of Cambridgeshire’s over 55 team, captain Simon Elliott and Chris Cope. In truth these were the only two players mad enough to turn out in pouring rain to take on the LTA President and the Cambs Councillor. David and I have an unenviable record in doubles of played 3 lost 3 and the fact that we scraped a victory in this match was most welcome – and put us both in a good mood for the remainder of the day. The tennis was of a very reasonable standard considering the wet courts and increasingly heavy balls. Our thanks to Cambridge LTC for the use of an artificial clay court which remained playable and not at all slippery in very inclement conditions.
Official duties then took over as David presented (or more accurately re-presented) Cambridge LTC with its LTA County Club of the Year Award, club member Steve Shaw with the LTA Regional Disability Award and Teresa Catlin with the Senior Female Player of the Year Award. Teresa, who is a coach and Club Manager at Cambridge LTC, won the individual World Championships singles and doubles in 2019 in her age group which was a spectacular achievement.
The club has over 1,000 members and club Chair Tim Arthur is always supportive of initiatives to open up tennis and also to encourage performance play through the hosting of tournaments. It is an excellent club with an engaged committee that thoroughly deserves the many awards it has received over recent years. Tim is also Chair of Cambridgeshire LTA.
Cambridge is undoubtedly the strongest hub for tennis within Cambridgeshire. This is due to the number of clubs in and around the city and also to the prosperous demographic in the area. However the county association is working hard to support the development of tennis away from Cambridge. Our next visit was to Huntingdon 20 miles NW of Cambridge. Huntingdon TC has 4 outdoor courts and 3 indoor acrylic courts under a double skin bubble. Recently coaching and day-to-day management of the club has been handed over to the coaching and training organisation Inspire2coach. We met with I2C Area Manager Anita Duff and watched a few minutes of a level 1 coaching course taking place in the bubble. This is a club which has room for a substantial increase in membership and I2C are working hard to achieve growth through community outreach, school programmes and increased opportunities for members. The security of indoor play will definitely help with this. Additionally long-standing coach Julian Payne is hosting under 8 mini red sessions for aspiring county players living in the north of the countyDavid was introduced to three further members of the Cambridge LTC coaching team who were delivering group lessons to a few hardy youngsters who were getting very wet. Finally he was introduced to Mark Goodman who – together with his wife Karen – owns East Anglia’s premier tennis equipment and racket stringing service, Top Spin Tennis. This company has outlets in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Buckinghamshire and has offered huge support to tennis in each of these counties.
Cambridge is undoubtedly the strongest hub for tennis within Cambridgeshire. This is due to the number of clubs in and around the city and also to the prosperous demographic in the area. However the county association is working hard to support the development of tennis away from Cambridge. Our next visit was to Huntingdon 20 miles NW of Cambridge. Huntingdon TC has 4 outdoor courts and 3 indoor acrylic courts under a double skin bubble. Recently coaching and day-to-day management of the club has been handed over to the coaching and training organisation Inspire2coach. We met with I2C Area Manager Anita Duff and watched a few minutes of a level 1 coaching course taking place in the bubble. This is a club which has room for a substantial increase in membership and I2C are working hard to achieve growth through community outreach, school programmes and increased opportunities for members. The security of indoor play will definitely help with this. Additionally long-standing coach Julian Payne is hosting under 8 mini red sessions for aspiring county players living in the north of the county - which will help bring the club to the attention of a wide range of families.
The final visit in the north of the county was to the City of Peterborough Tennis Club now established as an integral part of Peterborough Town Sports Club, which also offers bowls, cricket, hockey and squash. Tennis moved here in 2016 from a former site and the proceeds of the sale of grounds has been used to substantially improve and install floodlighting on three existing macadam courts and to erect two frame fabric acrylic indoor courts. Membership has risen from 25 to around 500 since 2016. This is a magnificent story driven by the vision of PTSC Committee and in particular by the chair of the tennis section Bill Skead. Peterborough has a population of around 200,000 and it is growing rapidly and has a higher number of younger people than average. Previous tennis offerings were in small clubs and one small David Lloyd centre. The emergence of City of Peterborough TC has totally rejuvenated tennis in the area. The substantial coaching programmes provided by Inspire2coach, pay and play, community outreach and disability programmes are all contributing to increase footfall on court. The ready availability of other sports on the site has been an added attraction enticing young sportspeople to try new sports. David presented LTA County Coach of the Year Award to head coach Max Lambert and passed over to Bill Skead the LTA County Young Person of the Year Award to be handed to Alice Craig, who is currently studying at university.
David, Mark and Tim Arthur has the opportunity to meet with Bill and two members of Peterborough Town Sports Club committee to discuss the approach to building two further frame fabric indoor courts. There is space on the site and the business plan prepared by the tennis club shows clearly that there is demand and importantly the financial wherewithal to repay the loans required. Mark and Tim consider this project to be important to sustain growth in the north of Cambridgeshire. It will also enable tournaments and county training to take place in Peterborough as well as Cambridge – to the benefit of those living in the north of the county.
General Issues Raised in the Course of the President’s Visit A fundamental challenge in Cambridgeshire is that there are many small village clubs with four or less courts located on recreation grounds. The future of these clubs depends on the drive and enthusiasm of the committees and many are very popular and sustainable. There are however not enough large clubs. Our ideal is to build up larger clubs in Cambridge, Huntingdon, Peterborough and in the future at Ely and Wisbech that will be able to provide support and advice to their smaller neighbours. They can also act as centres of coaching excellence able to provide the programmes for players on the start of a performance pathway. This is beginning to evolve and we are working hard to engage with head coaches to build club-county dialogue and an atmosphere of co-operation. There has been a history of supporting sustainable capital programmes in the county with grants which were enabled by the Cambridgeshire Fund in recent years. The ability of county to seed-fund projects enabled venues to successfully apply for additional third party grants. Whilst the easy access loans are useful, we have not found that they are as beneficial in attracting further grants and the absence of grant-funding will slow down the speed of development in the county. County – as well as the clubs concerned - was disappointed that Peterborough has not been designated as a target location for an indoor centre. It is difficult to rationalise that Cambridge with 12 permanent indoor courts (15 in winter) and the potential of a new university centre is a target location whilst a rapidly growing city with only two permanent indoor courts (6 in winter) is not. We will work to help City of Peterborough achieve their ambition of 2 additional indoor courts. County officials have worked hard to encourage venues to adopt ClubSpark as their IT platform. All agree that this has some excellent and relevant features which help clubs manage their membership, court bookings and coaching programmes. A number of venues have advised us that ClubSpark is slow to deal with bugs and enhancements and communication with them is difficult. We feel that ClubSpark is the prime interface between venues and the LTA and the LTA will be heavily judged by the performance of ClubSpark. We would recommend: • The establishment of a user group for ClubSpark • Information on bugs with time frame for fixes • A timetable of enhancements to be launched • An explanation of developments being considered with approximate time frames • A list of issues that will not be tackled in the short-medium term and why • An easy method of logging issues with an acknowledgement they have been received All who met David in Cambridgeshire appreciated his willingness to discuss issues constructively and provide an avenue for further information. His intention to visit every county is admirable and his increased understanding of the issues relevant to grass roots tennis will be an invaluable aid to future discussions at a higher level. Thank you David and Brenda for the opportunity to meet up and show you some of what we have to offer.
On 16 September on the indoor courts of Easton Tennis Centre near Norwich four doubles pairs from Norfolk and Cambridgeshire duly arrived, donned masks and in a suitably socially distanced way, walked onto court.
Each pair played two matches and everyone savoured the sense of relief and euphoria to be playing a county match again. Fittingly the result was a draw with four rubbers being won by each team. Cambridge A won 3-1 and Norfolk B won 3-1. The real winner was tennis with the taking part being far more important than the result – just for once!
What did we learn from the experience? Well the two biggest negatives were the need for everyone to travel separately, which did not do much for global warming. Nor could we meet up after the match for refreshments and an extended chat. However the pluses far outweighed these irritations. Play was competitive but in very good spirit. There was ample opportunity to talk to opponents during and after the matches and the careful attention of Easton Tennis Centre to comply with Covid-19 requirements and yet remain welcoming was exemplary.
Many thanks to Jim Hunter, the Cambridgeshire captain, who did a fantastic job liaising with his opposite Number for Norfolk Rob Ollman. Well done to all the Cambridgeshire team who put in good performances against a higher rated team. We all look forward to a return match in Cambridgeshire before the year is out.
During this very crazy world of Covid19 and lockdown we are now experiencing, sadly all County and National Tennis events were cancelled from mid March. However, I am still very pleased to be able to report some brilliant achievements from many of our county players.
Jan2020 Tipton Indoor Championships
45s MS semis - Andrew Moraghan
45s MD Winner Pieter Van Houten, R/U David Mills & Nick Boys
50s WS & WD Winner - Teresa Catlin
55s MD R/U, Alan Jordan/Scott Martin
60s WS Winner Judy Horn
60s WD semis, Sue Mitchell /Pat Forster
2019/20 Midlands Counties Veterans Winter Leagues, held at Corby Indoor Tennis Centre, our Cambs 55s Men's team (Capt. Ashley Martin) won the Men's 55s league for the first time in 27 years! It came down to 'winner takes all' as both Cambs and Leics were level on wins against Norths, Notts, Warks, Lincs & Beds.
Also our Cambs 40s ladies (Capt. Christine Sprowell) having won the last 3 years, sadly were R/U this year. They were in the same position having drawn on sets with Lincs up to the last match. So it came also came down to 'winner takes all' with Lincs winning.
Scottish Indoor Championships 3-8 Feb 55WD Jenny Chin R/U
Further achievements but all matches were cancelled. Teresa Catlin, was selected to play for GB in the singles and doubles for the 50s ladies team and Judy Horn, Sue’s sister, selected to play for the ladies 60s team, at the 2020 World Tennis International Team and Individual Championships to be held in Florida in May. Also Dan Ahl (Cambs ex CPO) was selected to play for the men’s 50s team.
Alan Jordan and Scott Martin were selected to play for our Men’s England 55s team in the 4 Nations Cup (England, Wales, Scotland & Ireland) Seniors age group tennis Championships due to be held at Bolton Arena mid May.
Hunstanton LTT was voted the best tournament of the year.
Steve Shaw was voted the best volunteer.
Teresa Catlin was then voted the best LTA Seniors Ladies player of the year alongside Dan Evans and Joanna Konta at a Virtual LTA Ceremony. Please see below with Teresa’s comments.
Then on Saturday 12 September @ CLTC, Teresa was presented personally by Edward Oakenfull who is STGB lead selector, her LTA Seniors player of the year, trophy.
Yujiro's star continues to rise after victory in the LTA Youth National Series 18.
In an event for the top 16 players in the 18 years and under category, 16 year old Yujiro was the youngest player at the tournament, but that did not hold back the Cambridge ace.
In the first round, he defeated Oliver 6-2 6-0, and followed that up in the quarter finals with a 6-4. 1-6 10-5 success over Matthew.
The semi finals saw Yujiro pitted against top seed William, and he emerged triumphant 6-4 6-3 to set up a final against third see Billy.
Afer losing the first set 6-4, Yujiro responded by taking the next two sets 6-4, 10-5 to take the overall victory.
As the prize Yujiro received a wildcard offer to play in the LTA British Tour: Return to Elite Competition event at the National Tennis Centre from 4th to 6th September.
The message from the Prime Minister this evening should result in all tennis activities being suspended. Detailed advice for venues and coaches can be found by following the links on the following page: https://www.lta.org.uk/about-us/tennis-news/news-and-opinion/general-news/2020/march/coronavirus-covid-19---latest-advice/
Based on information we have received from the LTA, we know that 80% of the LTA Accredited Coach workforce are declared as self-employed and understand that this brings with it particular worry and concern right now, especially with the announcement tonight that ends all tennis coaching. The LTA and many other bodies are in ongoing conversations with Government to make sure the concerns of the self employed are heard. These bodies are all pushing for Government to make further support available.
In the meantime, Cambridgeshire LTA will try and support the local workforce with both advice and, in certain circumstances, some limited financial support. If any coach needs any assistance or if anyone in our community is able to help, please contact us at the firstname.lastname@example.org
The LTA is issuing regular guidance with respect to tennis and the coronavirus. The latest guidance can be found by following the link below:
Within this link you will find further links taking you to tailored advice for coaches and venues. We strongly recommend that you check this on a regular basis to ensure you are following the latest recommended practice with respect to your tennis activities.
As with any other illness, all those involved in tennis in Britain are encouraged to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and avoid catching it by following Public Health England and NHS guidance.
Information on how to do this is provided on the NHS.UK website, with additional information available on the Public Health England blog.
It is imperative that anyone who has been advised to self-isolate or stay at home based on the advice on the NHS.UK website should not take part in tennis activities for the duration of the specified period and we would ask that people do not visit any tennis sites if they have any concerns about their health.
If you have any specific tennis related questions over and above the guidance please email us on:
Tim Arthur (Chair) email@example.com
Mark Sanders (LTA Councillor) firstname.lastname@example.org
Mason won the U10 Grade 5 tournament at Legends Tennis Centre on 8 February and was runner up at the U10 Grade 4 tournament at Hills Road on 12 January and Dallington on 23 February.
Olivia has recently won four grade 4 U10 events at Welwyn Junior Open, Our Lady of Muswell, the East Winter County Tour North Oxford Lawn Tennis Club and the Culford Open. Congratulations.