Tennis club continues to serve up the aces

Greg Rusedski is seen high-fiving Katie Wood at Boston Tennis Club in 2015.
Greg Rusedski is seen high-fiving Katie Wood at Boston Tennis Club in 2015.

As Wimbledon fever grips the globe, Boston Tennis Club are halfway through a year which celebrates two important anniversaries.

Indeed, the All England Club’s prestigious tournament may dominate many people’s interest for a fortnight, but down Sleaford Road the motto reads ‘tennis for all - all year round’.

Boston Tennis Club's indoor centre and mini courts.

Boston Tennis Club's indoor centre and mini courts.

And 2017 marks the anniversary of two vital contributors to keeping that legend well and truly contemporary for the 900 members and visitors who use the range of court surfaces from January to December each year.

March marked the 20th anniversary of the first balls being served at the four-court indoor centre, while it has also been 15 years since a major refurbishment to the site - including the construction of a new clubhouse, clay and additional hard courts - got underway.

“These developments gave us the opportunity to offer more people the chance to play tennis,” honorary secretary Frank Cammack told The Standard.

Since joining the club as a 10-year-old 62 years ago, Frank has seen the club grow from a handful of grass courts into one of the most revered tennis centres in the region and beyond, a fact which was emphasised last year by a number of impressive awards.

Boston Tennis Club.

Boston Tennis Club.

Among those, Boston Tennis Club picked up trophies for the Lincolnshire Coach of the Year, the National Young Volunteer of the Year, the Midlands Tennis Club of the Year and the Midlands Outstanding Achievement award of the year, awarded to Frank himself for his contributions to the club and sport.

The Sleaford Road club currently boasts a total of 17 full-size courts and two small-sized mini tennis courts, designed to hone skills in younger players.

As well as nine hard courts (six of which are floodlit) and the four indoor surfaces, the club can also boast the only clay courts in the county.

“We have world-class surfaces which are used for world-class tournaments,” Frank added.

“Indoor it is cushioned acrylic which is used in US and Australian Opens, while clay is used in the French Open.”

Grass courts would complete the Grand Slam set, but there are no plans to reintroduce them.

“It’s the world’s best surface, but impractical for the club,” Frank added.

“You can only use them for four months of the year, and they cost the same as other courts to build when you take into account drainage and other costs.”

Courts that couldn’t be used for much of the year would be at odds with the club’s ethos, which is about getting as many people playing as possible.

While the set-up is eyecatching, it is people swinging rackets which Boston TC takes most pride in.

Of the 900 members, there is an equal split between juniors and seniors, with members aged from three to those in their 80s taking part.

“We aim to give everyone the best possible tennis experience at the cheapest possible price,” said Frank, of a club where annual membership begins as low as £31 for youngsters.

“Tennis can be an individual or team game. You can take from it whatever you want.

“We run 20 teams in Aegon leagues. We don’t put out teams just to win, we aim to put out as many teams as we can to give everyone the chance of playing as often as they can.”

Two years ago former US Open finalist Greg Rusedski paid a visit to town to watch seven of those teams in action, choosing Boston because the club entered more teams into the county, regional and national Aegon leagues than any other centre in the country.

Many youngsters are introduced to the club via the impressive schools programme.

Coaches give free taster sessions in every local school which is willing to accept their offer, with youngsters are then invited to maintain their interest with an additional free series of sessions at the club itself.

And while many club youngsters go on to play at county level and beyond, Frank believes there are plenty more positives to be gleaned.

He added: “Sport helps build character. It gives children who may not be the best academically a chance to show their potential.

“Anyone can take part and anyone can improve themselves through sport. It gives people confidence.

“We have young people who help volunteer at the club and it gives them pride in themselves and good experiences.

“Tennis and sport can help with careers. Not just as professional sportspeople, but also as coaches, jobs in PE, even within sports admin.”

The club has a lot of foreign nationals join via the schools programme.

Frank added: “We aim to be all-inclusive. The great thing about tennis and sport is that you don’t have to be able to speak a language brillantly to play. Anyone can do it and sport’s a great way to promote integration.”