Record number of nominations as Shropshire winners of LTA Awards are recognised

The outstanding contribution of Shropshire tennis volunteers was recognised as the county's winners of Lawn Tennis Association Awards deservedly stepped into the spotlight.

Held annually in collaboration with the LTA, nominations are invited each year from around Shropshire to highlight the county’s unsung tennis heroes. 

Launched in 2015, with the help of Shropshire’s former LTA president Cathie Sabin OBE, the awards recognise people involved in the sport who dedicate so much time and effort to helping others. 

Sarah Downes, Tennis Shropshire’s LTA Awards co-ordinator, revealed the number of nominations received locally this year was a new record, with the winners unveiled at a presentation evening held at The Shrewsbury Club. 

“Numbers were up for nominations, which is great,” said Sarah. “It’s the most we’ve received in the five years the awards have been held.

“It means so much to those nominated to know that someone has taken the time to put them forward for an award.

“We had 10 coaches nominated for the coach of the year award, which is quite spectacular, and congratulations to all of this year’s winners and to everyone nominated.

“The Shropshire winners will now go forward to the regional awards for the Midlands and, potentially, the national awards, with the winners to be announced at Wimbledon next summer."

Sarah added: “It was an excellent night and we thank The Shrewsbury Club for again being very welcoming hosts. We were delighted to be joined by Roy Dixon and Ian Davies from Shropshire’s Atlantic Mavericks as our special guests.

“They gave an inspiring presentation ahead of setting off to row the Atlantic next month - and we were pleased to raise £140 for their chosen charities from a raffle held during the evening."  

Roy and Ian from the Atlantic Mavericks presented the awards, along with Tennis Shropshire president Jilly Broadbent, with the night’s guests hearing some inspirational words about the winners when they stepped forward to collect their trophies.

Keith Smith from Newport’s Boughey Gardens Tennis Club received the lifetime achievement award. Keith joined the club in 1958, serving as both chairman and secretary, while he was also head coach for 43 years, with an impressive number of junior players involved at the club.

Keith represented the county as a player and his many other roles included producing the Shropshire handbook for five years while he also coached the county's boys squad for more than 20 years. Keith was awarded an MBE in 2004 in recognition of his contribution to tennis and also Newport’s business community.  

The volunteer of the year award was presented to Lilleshall Village Tennis Club’s Tim Klyn, who has played an important role in the continued development and growth of the club. 

He has helped grow the club’s junior membership, completing both his level one and two coaching certificates, while Tim's ability to spot what needs to be done at the club and get on and do it via a wide range of contributions behind the scenes has also proved invaluable. 

Molly Pickles from Telford Tennis Centre was named as Shropshire’s young volunteer of the year. She has gone above and beyond in her volunteer work, becoming an extremely valuable member of the team for her attentive, passionate, caring and all round approach.

Molly, who usually spends three days a week at the centre, has helped many with their tennis, proving enthusiastic on and off court with children and their parents, while she also enjoys coaching disability tennis and has built a fantastic bond with all players to ensure they have the best possible experience. 

Nikki Hoy’s excellent contribution at Lilleshall Village Tennis Club saw her named coach of the year. Head coach at Lilleshall for two years, she has transformed the junior coaching programme, with 110 juniors between the age of four and 17 now attending every week. 

Nikki coaches five days a week after school, as well as at weekends, with sessions arranged to suit the needs of parents. Also involved in other projects at the club, her experience and enthusiasm ensures she has the ability to provide varied programmes to keep children interested. Nikki has also set up links with local schools in the area.  

Alex Cleland from Shifnal received the official of the year award. Alex now has his ITF White Badge after passing Level 2 school in Tbilisi, Georgia. He has chaired his first matches at Wimbledon in the junior events and line umpired at the US Open for the first time.

Having exceptionally high standards, Alex impressed with his professionalism when he umpired at the International Schools Federation World School Championships in Italy this year. He also provided training, mentoring and leadership to the other umpires and was asked by the tournament referee to deliver the morning briefings to fellow umpires.  

The club of the year award went to The Shrewsbury Club, which continues to be a centrepiece of tennis activity in Shropshire. The Shrewsbury Club hosted a number of prestigious events during 2019, including W60 and M25 World Tour tournaments, the National Wheelchair Tennis Championships, BUCS National Championships, Shropshire County Championships and many county matches.  

Catering for a wide range of tennis players, the club has developed its relationship with local schools and colleges to take tennis to the masses, and strengthened its links with the local community. The club also regularly holds events for the wider tennis loving public in Shropshire, opening its doors and facilities to help grow the sport.    

The education award was presented to Newport’s Burton Borough School after 100 per cent of students in KS3 participated in tennis during lessons this year, with around 10 per cent attending the extracurricular tennis clubs at lunch or after school. In KS4, around 30 per cent of students choose to participate in tennis in their core PE lessons, with a larger number of students representing the school in local competitions. 

Students are taught many valuable life skills through competing, leading and officiating in tennis lessons at school, with over 30 students trained as Tennis Leaders. Burton Borough also worked very closely with Lilleshall Village Tennis club to set up a popular satellite club at the school.   

Oswestry’s Derwen College received the disability award. Financial support and partnership work with British Tennis enabled the college to purchase specialist equipment to ensure all students with special educational needs can take part in tennis sessions, as well as specialist training for staff.  

Students have competed in regional and national tennis competitions, and attended a Tennis Festival with Telford Tennis. Tennis is a timetabled weekly activity for students, as well as an option for all students to participate in tennis as a club session in the evenings as part of their enrichment and wellbeing programme.   

The Shropshire County Championships, which has gone from strength to strength over the last five years, was the winner of the competition of the year. In that time, the event has grown from 88 players taking part to 192 this year.   

The tournament has evolved to create a celebration of tennis across Shropshire, focusing on doubles, with both junior and adult players from across the county encouraged to get involved. Successfully introducing a county circuit of grade four competitions in the run up to the event has led to players from more rural areas of Shropshire taking part. 

Pictured: Keith Smith, third right, receives his lifetime achievement award from Tennis Shropshire president Jilly Broadbent together with Roy Dixon and Ian Davies from Atlantic Mavericks.

Tim Klyn, far right, receives his volunteer of the year award.

Young volunteer of the year Molly Pickles, second right, receives her award.
Nikki Hoy, third right, was named as coach of the year.

Jon Gidney, second left, collected the club of the year award for The Shrewsbury Club.

Eluned Watson, third right, received the disability award on behalf of Derwen College.
The night’s award winners and nominees line up with Tennis Shropshire president Jilly Broadbent, Roy Dixon and Ian Davies from Shropshire Mavericks and, right, Tennis Shropshire chairman Simon Jones.