Celebrations at Rodway Hill Tennis Centre

June 30 2014

IT'S 20 years since Rodway Hill Tennis Centre - based at Mangotsfield Secondary School - opened and it is planning a host of activities to celebrate the occasion.


rod way hill tennis centre

IT'S 20 years since Rodway Hill Tennis Centre - based at Mangotsfield Secondary School - opened and it is planning a host of activities to celebrate the occasion.

Andy Murray, defending Wimbledon champion (at the time of writing!), has got things off to a winning start by signing a unique poster, designed especially for the club, together with a ‘Happy 20th Anniversary’ postcard which has been framed for display in the clubhouse. As well as Andy Murray, brother Jamie, who is a mixed doubles Wimbledon champion and mum Judy, GB Federation Cup captain, have also signed the poster, making this a truly unique item.

On July 19, celebrations continue when the club hosts former Wimbledon and Davis Cup players who will be bringing the ‘Tennis Circus’ to Mangotsfield and offering coaching clinics for everyone from mini players and adult beginners to the more experienced players. The day is sponsored by Bright Ideas for Tennis charity, giving the club the opportunity to raise funds for future development. The day will culminate in exhibition tennis and a barbecue.

Jackie Matthews, chair and co-founder, said: “It’s hard to believe 20 years have passed since we started the club with just four senior and four junior members.

“We have seen many thousands of people benefit from and enjoy the excellent facilities provided for community tennis whether by attending our open days, tea and tennis afternoons, taking part in our schools programmes or simply coming along to the weekly coaching sessions which run all year round. We are very proud to now have hundreds of people using the facilities every week with members of all ages and standards enjoying a full social and competitive tennis programme.”

The first LTA sanctioned tournament took place in October 1994, just weeks after opening, and attracted juniors from all over the country. In the spring of 1995 Gary Mabbutt, the former Bristol Rovers, Spurs and England football captain, officially opened the club with around 1,200 people enjoying a fun packed day complemented by the Vauxhall Dunlop Tennis Roadshow, Radio Lollipop and many other side shows. Nick Gould, then British No. 9 player also attended.

In 1997, before Mangotsfield School started its latest building expansion programme, the club was selected to host a ‘Love Tennis’ day when Kriss Akabusi and Diane Louise Jordan (pictured) arrived by helicopter and joined a thousand more people for a day of tennis and sporting activities.

By 2000, Rodway Hill had become the first Community Tennis Partnership in South Gloucestershire. Working closely with the Lawn Tennis Association, Mangotsfield Secondary School and South Gloucestershire Sport Development Group, the tennis club was able to expand its coaching programmes and further increase school and community participation.

With so much activity and so many new people taking up tennis, Jackie was given South Gloucestershire’s Sports Volunteer Award in 2003, presented by Geoff Twentyman, for her long term commitment to improving facilities, promoting the sport and increasing participation.

With an increasing membership, it was time for the club to move out of the portable building, which it had persuaded a local company to donate when the club started. So to coincide with the school’s building programme, the club raised all the money to have its own purpose-built clubhouse ready for 2004, overcoming many obstacles in the planning and funding process.

Right from the start, Jackie had been encouraging as many local players as possible to enjoy the first class facilities and had organised annual singles and doubles competitions for all age groups. This had become a significant event in the calendar and was attracting players from all over the country after it was given LTA Grade 4 tournament status. Together with Jackie’s many other achievements, she was presented with the LTA’s ‘Meritorious Service Award’ in 2005 at the Queens Club by the then president of the LTA. Jackie is the only person from Avon ever to receive this award. “Perhaps I should have retired then,” said Jackie “but I am very proud to see the club celebrate its 20th anniversary.”

In 2007, Rodway Hill became the first tennis club in South Gloucestershire to be awarded the LTA ‘Clubmark’ accreditation, which it has held ever since.

With the appointment of coach, Lewis Fishlock, in 2009, the club has continued to develop with every type of tennis activity now available from tots tennis to the heart pounding beats of cardio tennis. Lewis has an expanding team of fully qualified LTA coaches and many tennis leaders who regularly help especially during the termly junior competition. The club is No. 2 in the region (of Avon and Wiltshire) for the number of Regularly Competing Juniors and is 9th in the South West of England. Since this is in competition with all the major indoor performance and commercial clubs, this is a massive achievement and a reflection of the quality of the tennis on offer at Rodway Hill. The LTA recognised this fact in 2012 when Lewis was named Coach of the Month for April and later given the full accolade of Coach of the Year by the LTA.

At the same time, Jan Fishlock, the club’s junior secretary and welfare officer, was awarded the LTA Volunteer of the Year for the South West region for her support in administering the junior tennis programmes.

There is a hard working team of volunteers who organise events and make sure tennis is accessible and affordable for all. The club provides a safe and structured environment for everyone to enjoy tennis and with more juniors being offered county training opportunities and adults dusting off their old rackets, this is a great time to give tennis a try.

For more details on the upcoming events or for any coaching or membership opportunities, please visit the website www.rodwayhilltennis.com or contact Jackie on 0117 957 4044 or email rodwayhilltennis@yahoo.co.uk

You can also follow the club on Facebook and Twitter @RodwayHillTC