Vi­brant set-up a model to all

VIL­LAGE TEN­NIS CLUB CON­TIN­UES TO GO FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH AF­TER UP­GRAD­ING OUT­DATED FA­CIL­I­TIES

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - All The Week’s Action... - By Mark Stokes

It’s 10.30am on a bright but cold Satur­day in the mid­dle of win­ter and the five courts at Wye Ten­nis Club are a hive of ac­tiv­ity. From the tots learn­ing the ba­sics of the game to the vet­er­ans still try­ing to per­fect the un­re­turn­able back­hand, ev­ery age has its place here. If ever proof was needed that ten­nis is a sport that can be played by any­one, this is it. Yet, there is noth­ing dif­fer­ent about this par­tic­u­lar Satur­day, no spe­cial pro­mo­tions, no kids for a quid in­cen­tives to get peo­ple in. This is how it is ev­ery Satur­day at Wye, or at least it is since the club up­graded their pre­vi­ously mod­est fa­cil­i­ties to drag them into the 21st cen­tury. Chair­man Gra­ham Suther­land proudly de­scribes the club as “vi­brant” but it was not so long ago that a more ap­pro­pri­ate de­scrip­tion would have been “dor­mant”. With just two crum­bling courts, a por­ta­ble cabin that served as a club­house and toi­lets that left a lot to be de­sired, Wye was des­per­ately in need of a facelift. It was a place that teach­ers at the nearby Lady Joanna Thornhill En­dowed Pri­mary School would not dream of send­ing pupils. Fast for­ward to to­day and more than half the chil­dren at the 480-strong school play there which has helped to swell the club’s mem­ber­ship from a mod­est 149 to more than 360. Mr Suther­land takes up the story. “When I be­came chair­man (in Novem­ber 2005) one of the first things I did was to go the school and ask them why they did not send their chil­dren here. They said it was be­cause of the fa­cil­i­ties and I said ‘fair enough’ and we set about do­ing some­thing about it.” The cat­a­lyst for mov­ing the club for­ward was get­ting a new club­house which was opened in Septem­ber, 2008, with the help of money from Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil, Kent County Coun­cil and the Lawn Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion. Mr Suther­land and his wife Beryl also The club also have high hopes for nine-year-old Lu­cas Han­ley who is ranked No.8 in the re­gion and hopes soon to break into the na­tional set-up. Mr Suther­land said: “This is a club that caters for ev­ery­one. Ten­nis is such a good fam­ily game. “It can be played boy-girl, hus­band­wife, young and old which is mar­vel­lous. “You come down on a Sun­day and you’ll see mum and dad with their kids play­ing.”

FM2993219

Young­sters lis­ten as coach Tom Sam­son

passes on some ad­vice

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Jack Bouch has his hands full as he col­lects the balls af­ter prac­tice

Gra­ham Suther­land

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