How did you get into Tennis?
I was 7 years of age and Wimbledon was on the TV. Me and my brother like with most spots we watched wanted to have a go. My mum bought us both a 99p racket from the local shop and with a bit of imagination (two bins and a piece of string across the drive) we had created our own tennis court! My mum then saw our interest and enthusiasm and took me along to a summer tennis camp at one
of the local schools. The coach felt I had some ability and recommended I had some lessons with him. With not many clubs in the area I started receiving lessons in the local park and soon moved onto some county and regional training. From here I never looked back and have been involved in tennis my whole life.
What made you decide to become a coach?
It something I always wanted to do from a very young age. Spending most days of the week at tennis clubs/tennis centres many of the role models I had as a child were tennis coaches and I always thought I’d love to do that. After university I worked in a couple of other jobs, but my heart was
always in tennis and when the right opportunity came along that was it, I was in!
What do you enjoy most about coaching tennis?
Two things for me, firstly its working with people. I’ve got to meet so many interesting and fantastic people through the sport and they all bring their own unique story. It’s allowed me to learn so much
and develop some fantastic friends who without coaching and tennis I would never have met. Secondly it is seeing people develop and improve no matter what their standard. From a talented junior winning a tournament after all that practice on their cross-court backhand to a beginner smiling away as they can now actually play tennis.
Tell us a little bit about your community?
The Tennis for Free site is in Prestwich which is situated in Bury and is a stone’s throw from the City
Centre of Manchester. We have a vary varied community with many differing cultures, backgrounds and ages. The community reflects modern urban living and they are the friendliest community I’ve worked amongst. They all pull together and know how to have fun combined with that underlying, unexplainable Manchester buzz.
What inspires you in your community?
The fact that the community are so open and accepting of each other. They are so supportive and
this is seen in every Tennis for Free session, no matter who arrives they are there smiling and
welcoming them in. This to me is fantastic as they are bringing this friendly, welcoming attitude to
the sport I love and are getting more and more people playing tennis.
How did you become involved in Tennis for Free?
I had begun working on a project with the Lawn Tennis Association and Bury Council which involved launching a tennis coaching program in St Marys park which had just received investment and a dramatic improvement in the facilities. We felt that Tennis for Free would be a perfect session to get more people playing tennis in the community and make use of the high-quality new tennis courts
and coaching on offer in the park.
What do you like most about the program?
For me it’s the ease of access to tennis. The program removes all the barriers, no cost, equipment
provided and a structured session which involves everyone. I’ve met so many people on these
sessions who have said that without Tennis for Free they would never have picked up a racket.
Describe a Typical Tennis for Free session?
The session is split into two, the first hour is coach led activity with the second half hour free play for people to make use of the equipment and play between themselves.
In the coach led session we generally start with a fun large group warm up, children and adults together. We then split out into three areas each led by a coach. One court is for the youngest of children and they have a go at different racket and ball skills, co-ordination exercises and other games. We have a slightly older juniors/Adult Beginners court using slightly slower and softer balls
and they carry out several games and exercises. We then have the adult courts for those who feel a bit more comfortable with the full faster ball and they carry out several fun games and
The second hour allows participants to stay making use of the free equipment and court time, we generally, see new friends playing together and families spending some time together playing the games they’ve just learnt.
If you could describe what Tennis for Free do in one sentence what would it be?
Giving everyone the chance to play tennis the hassle-free way
Finally, for someone wanting to get involved how do they get in touch?
It’s simple, just visit www.Tennisforfree.com and within minutes you can sign up and register for a session completely free of charge