Mal­low Ten­nis club in­creas­ing in num­bers

Irish Examiner - County - - Sport -

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.

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