I think it’s fair to say that in Scotland, we’ve had quite a lot to brag about when it comes to tennis over the past decade. Andy Murray, who hails from nearby Dunblane, has won two Olympic gold medals, two Wimbledon titles and the US Open. He also claimed the world number one spot back in November 2016.
His brother Jamie has also had incredible success on the doubles circuit. He too became world number one in 2016, and has Australian and US Open titles to his name. Both the Murray brothers played a huge part in Great Britain’s 2015 Davis Cup triumph as well.
And there’s also Paralympic gold medallist Gordon Reid – another Scot – who has had tremendous success in the sport. The wheelchair tennis star has won the Australian Open and Wimbledon singles titles, as well as all four grand-slam double titles. It’s pretty clear that when it comes to sports our nation excels in, tennis is definitely one of them.
We’ve had some great success in Perthshire too. One local club in particular has been flying the flag for our region – Kinnoull Tennis Club. The men’s team won the top division in Scotland earlier this year for the first time in their history, a fantastic achievement by the four first team players Ryan Martin, William Lyburn, Matthew Gallagher and Cameron Ritchie.
Cameron also won the TS500 tournament at Craiglockart, defeating the number one seed David Holmes in straight sets in the process and qualifying him to take part in the prestigious TS1000 finale event. This meant the 20-year-old was able to compete against the UK’s best young tennis stars, a great experience to add to an already successful year.
Another Kinnoull member, youngster Marcus McLaren, was selected to represent Scotland in September’s Four Nations tournament while Steffi Anderson – club treasurer – has been nominated for Volunteer of the Year at the British Tennis Awards. All in all for a club of Kinnoull’s size it’s been a pretty incredible year.
As a former member myself, I have many fond memories of Kinnoull Tennis Club from my childhood. I was provided with great coaching by Jane Morrison and Tommy Ogilvie, and was given opportunities to play in tournaments and attend camps during the school holidays. A lot has changed since I last visited the courts, and both Jane and Tommy have moved on to pastures new with Ollie Paisley coming in as the club’s new head coach. There have been lots of changes made over the past few years with a lot more planned so it’s a very exciting time for Kinnoull.
As I stood looking out over the changed surroundings with club secretary Laura Jarvis, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the revamped set-up and the plans for further improvements in the very near future.
“I joined as secretary in 2014,” Laura told me, “and that’s me just finished my third year here. My son had been a very active junior member so I wanted to give something back to the club and felt I was in a position to help by joining the committee. There have been lots of changes made over the past few years with a lot more planned so it’s a very exciting time for Kinnoull.
“We’ve got plans to upgrade the clubhouse and other things such as the toilets and shower facilities, as well as making sure it’s properly insulated to keep us warm in the winter months! We’d love to make it more appealing as a space to be used for other purposes such as meetings, which could help the club get some additional income.
“And we have our new coach settled in now too – Ollie Paisley. We were really sad to see Jane and Tommy go because they had been here for so long and done an incredible job over many years but Ollie was the ideal person to come in and take over and she runs fantastic sessions for kids and adults of all ages and abilities.”
As well as giving the clubhouse a fresh lick of paint, Laura also wants to make the tennis club accessible to all. Inspired by a friend with a physical disability and also by the incredible Gordon Reid, she hopes to improve access to the courts and clubhouse, and believes that wheelchair tennis is something that can become popular at Kinnoull.
“When you’ve got someone like Gordon Reid dominating the sport of wheelchair tennis, I think it’s really important to give the people he has inspired the opportunity to play too. It’s a sport growing in popularity and the way the club is set-up just now, it’s very difficult for somebody in a wheelchair to access the courts.
“So that’s one of the changes we’re going to make, as well as making the entrance to the clubhouse wheelchair accessible too. We have most of the funding in place for it now and if it was up to me I’d get started right away! It’s not always that simple though when it comes to funding and grants, but hopefully the work will be completed by next summer in time for the peak tennis season.” We have a member called George who is nearing 100-years-old and he is still playing regularly!
While the club has enjoyed tremendous success over the past year, they still encounter the problems of many other sports clubs in the region during these testing financial times – attracting new members.
Laura is hoping that with the improvements planned for 2018 and the success of the men’s team and some of individuals within the club, they may be able to increase the number of adults joining up at Kinnoull to enjoy the health benefits but also social aspects of tennis.
“We’ve got a strong base of junior members which is great but we’re trying hard to attract more adults to the club. Tennis is a great game and you’re never too old to learn or play. We have a member called George who is nearing 100-years-old and he still plays!
“Ollie offers beginner sessions for adults which are great fun, fantastic exercise and can also help you to meet new people. There’s a great social side to tennis that people probably don’t realise, you don’t have to be playing in the competitive teams to enjoy that. We run something called Sunday Social Tennis on the last Sunday of each month, and it’s a casual thing where anyone can come down, have a hit and just have fun!”
So, if you’re one of the people who sit in awe watching Wimbledon every summer on the BBC, then why not give tennis a go for yourself?
If you're interested in joining Kinnoull Tennis Club, you can find out more by contacting the club via their Facebook page here.
To find out more about Ollie Paisley's coaching sessions, visit her page here or contact her on 07825 810149 or email@example.com.
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