PICTURE GALLERY: Moorgate Tennis Club

WITH summer upon us and Wimbledon just around the corner, DAVID BEDDOWS popped down to Moorgate Tennis Club to hit a few balls and discover the state of play.

WITH summer upon us and  Wimbledon just around the corner, DAVID BEDDOWS popped down to Moorgate Tennis Club to hit a few balls and discover the state of play

TWO years on from Andy Murray's success at Wimbledon, there is still lots of room for improvement in British tennis.

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The top 100 world rankings for both men and women contain no more than a handful of Brits and finding world class players, let alone ones who can compete for Grand Slams, is proving as difficult as ever despite strong investment.

What is certain is that at some time, whether it be this year or years to come, some kid is going to walk into his local tennis club, pick up a racket and show they've got what it takes to make it to the top.

Unearthing the next Murray, even the next Federer, Nadal or Djokovic, is a dream for any coach or club.

Spreading the love and reach of the game and giving beginners, whether young or not so young, a good grounding and somewhere to play is also important and Moorgate Tennis Club is very much part of that.

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The numbers playing there are healthy and that was shown recently at an open day.

Part of a nationwide Great British Tennis Weekend and backed by the Lawn Tennis Association, the event attracted a bumper turnout as people grasped the opportunity to hit a few balls and get coached for free.

Based on Moorgate Avenue, the club runs senior teams alongside a pool of juniors which includes youngster Josh Bows.

He was last year's 11-and-under Yorkshire champion and he's one of many being carefully nurtured at Moorgate.

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Head coach Glyn Smith takes delight in developing all-comers and in a sport that's sometimes perceived as being middle class, he is keen that talent shines through.

“I have worked with a couple of world ranked players in the past and with the bigger clubs you tend to get a lot of politics,” he says. “We are very much a community club.

“We run five men's teams, three women's teams and two mixed teams and we've a lad, Josh Bows, who was last year's Yorkshire champion at his age group without going to a Yorkshire session, he beat all the Yorkshire squad.

“If we get good kids, we put them forward for County days. I test them for agility and speed, stamina, mental skills and everything else. That is what they also do on the County days, they assess them all and they get a percentage (score) out so they don't get overlooked.

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“There's a perception that tennis is an elitist sport but if you have a kid who has everything and parents to fall back on compared to someone, for instance, from a mining village with nothing to fall back on they are going to be more determined to win.”

Glyn is a qualified performance coach registered with the LTA, the national governing body for the sport.

“I've played for 42 years and have been coaching for the last 15. I used to be a design draghtsman before that,” he explains.

“I was always taught as a draugtsman to get your first idea, scrap it and move on and even in coaching now, you're always learning. Sometimes if you make it simpler for someone to pick something up, for instance how to grip a racket or hit a ball, it works.

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“It's about changing all the time and keeping it fresh and coming up with new ideas instead of the same old, same old.”

Glyn spent four summers working with Tara Moore, the current British number seven who managed to get through the first round of Wimbledon last year.

Unearthing and developing talent requires patience.

“It takes years, but if I can get someone at Josh's standard and then push him up to the next level then we can pyramid it from there,” he adds.

“I have stopped my coaching on a Saturday for a few weeks because the adults I was coaching that day were beginners and they're all in teams now. They have gone from being non-players to players.”

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Moorgate has a long and colourful history, dating right back to 1896, when the decision was taken to build courts on the old tennis ground at Moorgate.

Disaster struck on New Year's Eve 2000 when an arson attack destroyed the pavilion. Thanks to the dedication of the committee members, the club survived and a new pavilion has since sprung up and the four courts have been resurfaced and three boast floodlights, ensuring year-round tennis.

Plenty are enjoying it and, in this small corner of the tennis world at least, the future looks bright.


1896: Moorgate Tennis Club formed

1934: Amalgamates with Rotherham Tennis Club

1996: 100-year-old red shale courts converted to all-weather courts

2000: Arson attack destroys pavilion

2007: New pavilion opened

2012: Courts resurfaced and floodlights installed