Club with a long, rich heritage is still serving up an ace service for town

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An historic tennis club that can trace its roots back more than 160 years — and has a unique link to the Wimbledon championships — is continuing to be a smash sporting ace in Buxton.

Now Buxton Tennis Club, which has a thriving adult and junior membership, is preparing to ride the crest of the wave of renewed interest in the sport following Andy Murray’s men’s singles victory at the All England Club’s annual showpiece.

The Scot’s second win in four years at the sport’s oldest tournament — his first ended a 76-year drought without a men’s singles winner — has again thrust the sport into the limelight.

And Buxton, proud of its heritage after the venue hosted the All-England Ladies Doubles Championships until 1951, when it moved to Wimbledon, is well equipped to cope.

Coach Andrew Storer said: “Wimbledon has been a fantastic two weeks for British tennis with Andy Murray winning his second men’s title and Heather Watson winning the mixed doubles.

“We are always looking for new members and hopefully their success will give us a boost and encourage more people to have a go.

“Tennis is a brilliant activity in the fact that you don’t have to be good to enjoy playing. It is a fantastic form of exercise and also a brilliant way of making new friends and having fun.

“Few people these days get the opportunity to get out in the fresh air and get good exercise at the same time — tennis provides both of those.” 

While the national tournament at the All-England Club might seem inaccessible to many, Buxton Tennis Club is very much open to all and an example of how grassroots tennis is thriving.

The club, which has three all-weather courts, offers year-round tennis and only rain and snow stop play.

It has enjoyed a successful last three years, increasing its membership across all age ranges thanks to a new junior programme set up by Andy and Lin Robinson.

Andrew, 38, a member for 22 years and already a LTA Level 1 qualified coach, was asked to take on a coaching role and, after completing his Level 2 qualification, launched the junior scheme with the help of Lin, a retired PE teacher from Buxton Community School.

He said: “The junior programme has been a huge success for the club with junior membership growing all the time.

“It has also helped increase our adult member section with lots of families/parents joining the club to also play.

“We have about 65 junior members and we are very lucky that we have such good parents, who help out rallying with juniors and umpiring matches at tournaments.”

There is junior coaching twice a week. On Sundays, from 9am to 10am, beginners and children aged up to nine practise on mini red tennis courts — a small court with small nets — using very soft tennis balls.

From 10am to 11am there are orange court lessons on a medium-sized court, aimed at older junior school pupils.

Then from 11am to noon there are full court lessons for juniors up to the age of 18. There are also junior lessons on Wednesdays, from 4pm to 6pm.

The club stages many junior tournaments thoughout the year, the highlights being its Wimbledon and Hallowe’en events.

There is also a junior ladder competition throughout the year, which gives juniors the chance to compete against each other to try to get to the top of the ladder.

Junior membership is £25 per year, including four free coaching lessons. Further coaching sessions are £3 per child per session.

Andrew said: “It has been amazing to see the juniors improve so much over the last three years and some of our advanced juniors now play for our men’s second team.”

Adult members play in the Sheffield and District League and social play is also an important part of the club with open sessions on Saturday mornings and Monday evenings.

There are two men’s doubles teams, a ladies’ doubles team, two mixed doubles teams and two winter league teams in the Sheffield league. Match play is on Saturday afternoons and Thursday evenings.

There are ladies’ sessions on Tuesday evenings as well and plans to establish a ladies’ second team next year.

The tennis club, which is part of Buxton Cricket, Bowls and Tennis Club at Park Road in the town, was launched by the cricket club in 1853.

Major tennis tournaments were held there from 1883 and the club is rightly proud of its long heritage.

The club thanked the help of its sponsors, D.G. Bradshaw, Buxton; Lomas Distribution, Buxton; Lafarge Tarmac;The Satterthwaite Bequest; and The Bingham Trust.

For information on Buxton Tennis Club go to www.buxtontennisclub.co.uk