St Budeaux Tennis Club undergoes impressive transformation

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St Budeaux Tennis Club are the proud owners of brand new state-of-the-art purple and green courts. And if you want to be the next Andy Murray or Emma Raducanu, then you can go are try them out this weekend.

This Saturday (14th May), people are being urged to go down and try out the facilities for free. It is part of the LTA big tennis weekend and St Budeaux Tennis Club would love to see as many attendees as possible, families, children and adults are all welcome.

The open day is running from 9am - 4pm and they will provide all the equipment needed so you can just turn up and give it a go. There will also be special offers over the weekend for both juniors and adults.

The tennis club is extremely passionate about helping the local community and schools, getting juniors involved as much as they can to promote positive mental health and using only local businesses. The club is one of the cheapest in Plymouth for families, they run children’s holiday clubs, adult and junior coaching, free play and even OAP sessions.

We spoke to Ryan Gillard, the vice chairman and head coach, Ricky Palmer, about what the club and the new refurbishment means to them. Ryan said: “Most of our members have been here donkeys years, staying with the club and bringing their family down to the club.

“You’ve got that family, community aspect down here, we’re working with different businesses and sponsors this year and they’re all local. 90 per cent of the people here live very local, we don’t have many that come very far.

“Recently, we invested a lot of time and money in getting all these courts resurfaced to the Wimbledon colours. It’s an individual for Plymouth, there’s no club like it with these colours, and we’re completely re-doing the place."

He added: “We’re not a charity or a CiC, we’re a committee-led community club. The money that we bring in from memberships, and Ricky brings in fundraising or from the junior sessions, all goes back into the club.

“The only money we have coming in this year is, for the first time, from sponsorships. We are having companies sponsor courts purely based on the fact these are the most up to date courts in the Devon area at the moment, there’s no clubs ahead of us at this moment in time with the brand new courts.

“It’s the first time in years we’re looking at this club from the perspective of growing it. During lockdown, the club was stagnant, now post-lockdown, we’re trying to improve the look of the place. It was an eyesore."

Even during lockdown however, the club were doing what they could to keep members active, they’ve even racked up 4 million TikTok views on their top videos. Ricky, who has won Devon LTA coach of the year twice, said: “Through lockdown we did remote coaching and competitions on social media to keep tennis going at home.”

Ricky is particularly proud of his volunteer programme, “I have such a big junior programme that I have nine junior volunteers that help out too. They’re won awards like junior volunteer of the year and active Devon awards and it also counts towards their duke of Edinburgh as well.”

Last year, St Budeaux Tennis Club won the club of the year award in the Devon LTA community club and parks awards. Ryan said: “We are a small club but we’re very good at what we do down here.

“Ricky has just been nominated for a national diversity award which is a big thing for us. It’s our head coach being recognised nationally as a role model.”

All abilities are welcome at the club, Ryan said: “We have all different standards of players here, we do have some very impressive tennis players down here and newbies as well. Everyone is very supportive and willing to help each other.”

Adult community tennis takes place on Wednesday night’s from 5pm so people are welcome to just turn up with a racquet and join in and the same on Saturdays from 1pm. However, for the more serious players, the club also does league tennis.

Ricky said: “We also do league tennis, we’ve got four men's adult teams and two of them are in division one, we’ve got three ladies teams, two of them are in division one as well. We’ve also got four junior teams, two of them are in division one and one of the junior teams hasn’t lost a match in five and a half years.”

Ryan added: “It’s just really good to leave the pressures and stresses of your job and come down here and whack a tennis ball about, switch your phone off and take some time out. We’ve even got members in our 80’s here, they have their own social Tuesday and Thursday mornings where they can take it nice and slow and enjoy it.

“Our aim is to be the number one community club in Plymouth, we’re not here to make millions and turn this into some ‘super club’, it’s to keep it local and make sure the children in the area have got things to do because having this hub and the big junior section helps the children in a mental health aspect. They’re able to come down here, play tennis and have regular coaching.”