Tennis club looks to bright future in 2022
Kelvin van Hasselt
In this column, Cromer Lawn Tennis and Squash Club chairman Kelvin van Hasselt outlines the progress of the club, which dates back to 1907 and boasts some of the best grass courts in the country.
The club is going from strength to strength – with record membership and new members joining every day - even in January.
The new members help bring new life to the club, to its mix-in social sessions and to its 11 tennis teams and the coached team practice sessions.
The club now has 2 full-time LTA Level 4 coaches and 4 part time LTA Level 3 coaches, one of whom, Jack Seton will be going full-time in May 2022.
The coaching team, under Andy Margarson has been greatly strengthened by the recent recruitment of Gavin Haggart, the former head coach of Coolhust Tennis Club, London.
The recently launched Tennis Returners six-week course taken by Gavin aims to stimulate people who have perhaps not played tennis for years to come back to tennis and join the club. The course has had a great take-up and will be run continuously throughout the year.
Beginners group coaching courses for adults run by Andy Margarson are also full to capacity and are also now run continuously throughout the year.
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The club will now be running adult beginner courses and mix-in sessions on Wednesday and Saturday evenings organised by new committee member Sarah Nash.
The club is also working hard on building up tennis for children.
Andy Margarson recently organised no less than 4 LTA Youth Start courses for children aged 5–11 which are six-session courses where each participant gets a tennis racket, tennis balls and a t-shirt for £ 34.99.
The next LTA Youth Start course begins on February 14. The Youth Start courses fuel the regular Junior Coaching Programme, which has record numbers of 120 children. Holiday camps at half term and for Easter are already being booked.
For the first time the club aims to field teams this year for all junior age groups – Under 8, Under 10, Under 12, Under 14 , Under 16 and Under 18 – for both boys and girls. Junior Club for Girls on Sundays at 4pm - 6pm, run by myself and assisted by Eleanor Tomkinson - is flourishing. Girls have been playing tennis almost non-stop for two hours – the new Emma Raducanus!
Junior Club for Boys is now being launched – also taking place on Sundays 4pm–6pm and run by LTA Level 3 coach Jack Seton.
The Club is now set on a path to raise funds for the resurfacing its all-weather courts over next couple of years which will transform the playing experience.
This year in August it plans for two courts to be surfaced with Tiger Turf artificial grass and an additional all-weather court will be built, also with an all-weather artificial grass Tiger Turf surface, a fabulous surface to play on.
In 2024 if not before, the club plans to convert its two tarmac courts possibly to artificial clay, a great surface for performance players and also for coaching.
The club have just recruited a first class squash coach, Henry Geaves, who is busy signing up clients for lessons and for his twelve-week courses – for juniors and adults – all kicking off on February 26.
Pickleball was only introduced to the club in May 2021 but quickly trained up a team of eight pickleball leaders to lead weekly sessions on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at Cromer Academy Indoor Sports Hall.
We hope some will go on to get further qualifications so that we can offer the best possible coaching in pickleball – the fastest growing sport in USA. The club has ambitions for its teams who will be competing at regional and national adult competitions this year; the next step will be to introduce pickleball in local schools – and for that the Club will need to train up PE teachers but is optimistic that the sport will take off in schools just as it has at the Club.
This year the Club will also be running a course for members to qualify as table tennis coaches. The next steps will then be junior mix-in sessions and the development of teams at different age groups.
Perhaps the most important function of the club is a social centre and the Edwardian clubhouse with its well-stocked bar and excellent coffee is a place to relax and chat – and on the last Friday of the month, to enjoy a quiz evening with supper for £12.
The Inspiration Trust is taking over the club on July 12 and 14 for the Inspiration Trust Grass Court Tennis Tournament and the Club’s kitchen and barbecue will be in action all day serving lunches and teas to children and parents. The Club hopes that other schools will wish to make use of its famous grass courts – carefully tended by Matthew Jordan - so that they are in perfect playing condition for the summer.
The club is also a favourite tournament for tennis players due to its location by the seaside.
The club runs county, junior and adult national tournaments in July and August and this year will be hosting teams from Lincolnshire, Middlesex, Cheshire, West of Scotland and North of Scotland, which should provide some great tennis to watch in July and August - North Norfolk’s Wimbledon-on-Sea!