Ruis­lip’s ace duo fire Mid­dle­sex to pro­mo­tion

Page and Mac­Far­lane help county into the top di­vi­sion

Harefield Gazette - - SPORT - By Matt Lewis matt.lewis@trin­i­tymir­

FAN­TAS­TIC Ruis­lip stars have helped Mid­dle­sex win pro­mo­tion to the top di­vi­sion of county tennis for the first time in 30 years.

Josh Page, 21, and Jack Mac­Far­lane, 18, were key mem­bers of the tri­umphant Mid­dle­sex men’s team which saw off com­pe­ti­tion from five other coun­ties to win Di­vi­sion Two of the Ae­gon County Cup.

The pres­ti­gious week-long dou­bles com­pe­ti­tion is held each sum­mer at seven grass court venues across the coun­try.

Mid­dle­sex com­peted in Cromer, Nor­folk, and can now look for­ward to play­ing at Premier level on the lush lawns of East­bourne in 2017 – the venue of the fa­mous in­ter­na­tional women’s tour­na­ment held each year be­fore Wimbledon.

Both boys, cur­rently on tennis schol­ar­ships at uni­ver­si­ties in Amer­ica, learnt their tennis un­der the guid­ance of pro­fes­sional tennis coaches, broth­ers Steve and Peter Butcher, at the Vir­gin Ac­tive River­side Club, North­wood.

Page, who started play­ing tennis aged seven, at­tended Ruis­lip’s War­ren­der Pri­mary School and Bishop Ram­sey, Church of Eng­land School. His fa­ther, Rev Derek Page, is se­nior min­is­ter at Ruis­lip Bap­tist Church.

For­mer Bri­tish U16 cham­pion Mac­Far­lane is go­ing into his fi­nal year at San Diego State Univer­sity, in Cal­i­for­nia.

Mac­Far­lane, who took up the sport as a six-year-old, at­tended White­heath Pri­mary School, in Ruis­lip, and The John Lyon School at Har­row. Mac­Far­lane, who reached num­ber two in the Bri­tish ju­nior rank­ings, is study­ing fi­nance at Ge­or­gia State Univer­sity, in At­lanta. Both boys hope to carry on their tennis ca­reers when they fin­ish their stud­ies.

Both play­ers were coached in­di­vid­u­ally and in squads by the Butcher broth­ers un­til about the age of 14, when they moved to the Win Academy at Bisham Abbey and then re­turned to North­wood club’s elite JTC Academy, run by top Bri­tish coaches Alan Jones, David Fel­gate and for­mer Wimbledon semi-fi­nal­ist Jo Durie.

Steve Butcher said: “From an early age both Josh and Jack showed sim­i­lar qual­i­ties – com­mit­ment, com­pet­i­tive­ness, pas­sion, drive and de­ter­mi­na­tion. They have al­ways been great ath­letes with a strong work ethic.”

He added: “My brother Pete and I are re­ally proud of the fact that Josh and Jack have taken the skills that we taught to them as young­sters to the high­est level of the county game.

“They have also turned out to be lovely unas­sum­ing young men, ap­pre­cia­tive of all the sup­port they have re­ceived over the years. When they are home from Amer­ica, they al­ways come back to the club to give up their time to hit with the next gen­er­a­tion of young play­ers com­ing up be­hind them, which has a hugely in­spir­ing ef­fect.”

The club, in Ducks Hill Road, North­wood, has re­cently launched a new ini­tia­tive VA Team, which of­fers fa­cil­i­ties and coach­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for ta­lented young play­ers ranked top 10 in their county or top 100 re­gion­ally.

n TRI­UMPHANT: Josh Page (left) and Jack Mac­Far­lane

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