A friendly tennis club that welcomes all the family is ready to take advantage of Wimbledon mania as Andy Murray prepares to defend his men’s singles title crown.
New Mills Tennis Club prides itself on its inclusivity and hopes that the sport’s showpiece tournament will encourage more people to play.
Chris Morton, a committee member whose parents used to help run the club, said: “A lot of people don’t even know that we are here as we are slightly hidden away.
“But for anyone who is inspired by Wimbledon to pick up a racket, we are there to help. We are a very friendly, family club and very accessible.
“Tennis is enjoying more of a high profile at the moment. Of course, Murray is the defending Wimbledon champion and Roger Federer is still there.
“But the sport in this country now has people under Murray who are pushing through – the likes of Kyle Edmund and Jo Konta.
“They are creating more interest in the sport. And the physicality and the fitness levels that are required these days to compete attract interest to.
“We are here for anyone wanting to have a go because of that. The beauty of tennis is that people of any age and any ability can play.
”And it is a fun sport that you can play from a really young age.”
Membership has increased at the New Mills club over the past year since it refurbished its three all-weather courts last year, which means tennis can be played year-round at New Mills.
The courts were jet washed and have a polymer surface that has helped to eradicate previous problems with moss.
Chris said the thriving junior section at the club was one of the main factors for its upsurge in membership.
“Youngsters are coming along and enjoying playing tennis with us, but then their parents are joining in as a family as well,” he said.
The club is hoping that not only Wimbledon, but the better summer weather and the lack of a TV sporting ‘rival’ such as the Olympic Games or football’s World Cup will also increase interest in tennis – as well as the long school holidays.
New Mills wants youngsters to see that their local tennis club offers something different and is the ideal place to go if they want to have a go at the sport.
It intends to spread the word further by holding special assemblies and activities at local schools.
Committee members and the club’s professional coach, Alex Graver, will be giving presentations and demonstrations at the assemblies.
Chris said: “Hopefully the youngsters will take it all in and then mention it to their parents as well.
“We have a great club that we want people to know about. Those who have moved to the area might not realise we are here or they may have seen us but not given us a try.”
New Mills, based off Church Road at facilities it shares with the town’s bowls and cricket clubs, has a thriving membership, ranging from six -year-olds to those over 60.
Players of all abilities are welcome, from absolute beginners to experienced team members.
Chris added: “We are integrated with the bowls and cricket sections. It is a nice space to spend a few hours in a great part of the High Peaks, yet a lot of people don’t even know we are here.
“Membership rates are lower than elsewhere and some members who started as youngsters have enjoyed it so much that they return after going away to university.”
Chris has a long connection with the club as his father, Andrew, was coach and secretary for many years, running New Mills.
The family connection was strengthened by help from Andrew’s wife and Chris’s mother, Caroline, who was also an active member before the couple retired to Wales.
Chris works away in Switzerland as a primary school teacher, but still returns whenever he can.
“When I get the chance to come back to New Mills it is great to see kids picking up a racket and new families as well,” he said.
The club, wh ich has an active social tennis section, runs two senior teams as well as the large junior set-up.
A men’s side plays in Division Two of the North-East Cheshire League, and a mixed doubles team in the Fourth Division of the East Cheshire Winter League. Junior players can feature in the adult teams.
Chris, who has played the sport for more than 30 years, said: “The men’s side plays to a high standard and will again stay up in their division.
“Juniors are given a chance in the senior teams, if only for a few sets, and it is good experience for them.”
The club is also proud of its social tennis side as well and specific sessions are held on Sunday mornings and Friday evenings.
Junior coaching is held during the week and also on Saturday mornings with eight to 12-year-olds playing from 9.30am to 11am and then 12 to 18-year-olds up to 12.30pm.
Free initial taster sessions are also available.
For further details of New Mills Tennis Club, including its reasonable membership fees of £140 for two adults and two children, and how to join, go to https://sites.google.com/site/newmillstennis or the club’s Facebook page or call Chris Morton on 07958 313204 or email firstname.lastname@example.org