Mallow Tennis club increasing in numbers
those of you that are not familiar with the world of tennis in Cork, this may be a chance for you to get to grips with one of the world’s most popular sports, a sport played in every country on the planet bar none.
Tennis may not come to the forefront of Cork people’s minds when considering a sport for themselves or their kids, however there is a vibrant and welcoming tennis community in many areas around the county.
Clubs in the north of the county have been working hard to promote the game in recent years with many localities seeing their tennis infrastructure dramatically improve in the last 10 years or so.
Tennis is now played at a competitive level in Dromahane, Hazlewood, Lombardstown, Milford, Whitechurch, Mitchelstown, Kilworth, Ballyhooly, and Mallow with the latter seeing huge improvements in all aspects of their club in recent times.
Mallow, has long had a tennis club however through a lack of interest, investment and capital over the years, the club has had to survive thanks to the generosity of its limited playing members as well as the goodwill of Mallow Golf Club, who are the custodians of the club in the north Cork town.
Tennis has often been seen as the preserve of an elite. However, like golf and many other sports such cricket, hockey, and squash, the game has had a much more welcoming feel to it in recent years as people go in search of a sport or past-time that will keep them active and social into their senior years.
In the last 12 months, Mallow Tennis Club has seen a resurgence in interest from the local sporting community and this impressive growth in interest has spurred those involved in the club to push for more — and thanks to main club sponsor VASS, local fundraising efforts, and a number of generous sports grants, the facilities at Mallow Tennis Club have been upgraded to a standard that would make the place unrecognisable to people who hadn’t visited for a number of years.
New playing surfaces on all four full-size courts have transformed the playing conditions. However, the members didn’t stop there with work to fencing, a viewing stand, and player rest area also going a long way to making Mallow Tennis Club one of the best sporting facilities in the Avondhu town.
In the last few months, a major upgrade of the floodlight system at the club has meant that competitive and recreational tennis can now be played day and night in facilities that are widely regarded as suitable for professional players.
From the outside, tennis might appear to some as a very basic game, and when played well it can be. However, to play it correctly and get the most from the game it is important that would-be players learn the basics when they first start playing and at Mallow Tennis Club that job falls to head coach Antoine Bercy.
The French-born coach, together with his coaching team, leads the coaching programme and junior development at the club and has managed to bring on some very talented and promising kids while also helping to improve the skills of those of a more mature and experienced vintage.
This programme is responsible for bringing tennis to a new level in MalFOR low.
While it may seem to those without a major interest in tennis locally that the club is just in its infancy, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth as there is a great tradition of tennis in the Mallow area — and the club has always been welcoming and accommodating to those at all levels of the game.
Recently, Mallow Tennis Club hosted the Ulster Bank Mallow Senior Open Tournament with players coming from all over the province to take part in what was to be a very successful and competitive tournament.
The tournament was open to players from all clubs in Munster with the finals taking place at the end of a hectic seven days of action. The hosting of the first senior open tournament in the town in some time was seen as an important step in making sure that Mallow Tennis Club takes its place among the more established sports clubs in the area and thanks to the efforts of all concerned, the club is well on goal.
Away from the competitive side of elite tennis, the club at Mallow has seen impressive growth over the last 18 months with a fourfold increase in active playing adult members from 20-80.
While the successful growth in adult numbers is a great achievement and something to be very proud of for all at the club, it is the development programme for young members which now has over 70 participants that will hopefully secure the future of the tennis club in Mallow and will see it go from strength to strength in the coming years.
Tennis may well not be seen as the most natural home for many Irish people looking to take up a sport, but it really is a great option for those looking for a low impact, fitness based activity that isn’t running.
Whether Mallow Tennis Club will ever be able to provide a Wimbledon winner is difficult to say and while the odds are against it, the old adage of if you’re not in you can’t win definitely applies.
Tennis is a great game for the young and an even better game for those of an older vintage looking to get back into some sort of purposeful sporting activity, so don’t rule out something you haven’t tried.
Rock up to your local tennis club and see what they have to offer. You may well get a big surprise. its way to achieving that
Cliff Carroll (Tennis Ireland), club president, Sharon Cosgrove, and club members, Pat Buckley and Dermot Kennedy at the kick-off of Ulster Bank Mallow Tennis Club Open.
The new facilities at Mallow Tennis Club.