WALTA Tennis Club of the Year 2022!

Representatives from Edgbaston Archery & Lawn Tennis Society were delighted to receive the award for Tennis Club of the Year 2022 from Warwickshire LTA in a ceremony held at West Warwickshire Sports Complex on 15th March 2023. The trophy and certificate were presented to EALTS Chair Karsten Scholer by Colin Mercer, Warwickshire Tennis Vice Chair and County Safeguarding Officer.

This fantastic achievement is due in no small part to the successful implementation of the club's development plan, which aims to i) develop the club's facilities and encourage more year-round play, ii) be a force for good in the local community, and iii) run the club as efficiently as possible for minimal effort.

The prior renovation of the club's two artificial grass courts was augmented in 2022 by the completion of two brand new hard courts, which (with newly-installed lighting) increased the number of all-weather courts to four. These courts have proved very popular with members across the winter months for social play, coaching sessions, and league tennis. The two clay courts have a better regime of ongoing care and maintenance and the grass courts are prepared to a high standard. These improvements have been made possible thanks to a group of forty eight members involved in committees, working groups, running the bar, and House & Grounds activities. In-house skills are used wherever possible to maximise efficiency and cost-savings. Recent volunteer-led projects include changing existing floodlights to LED to reduce energy bills, installing improved CCTV coverage, and decorating the clubhouse both internally and externally.

The award recognises the excellent quality of tennis opportunities available to both new and existing members. Our great coaching team offers a variety of styles to suit all abilities from beginners to team players. There is a varied calendar of coaching sessions encompassing all age groups from Tots to Vets. All new adult members are offered a free coaching session so that they can be signposted to the groups and activities that suit them best.

Opportunities for social and competitive play are available for all members. As well as the regional leagues, we run Club Championships, internal box leagues, internal cup competitions and junior matchplay. There is a wide range of social tennis, including dedicated weekend sessions for beginners to help them progress to general mix-ins, and several initiatives to encourage more inclusivity and diversity. We secured funding from WLTA along with Sport England, LTA, and the Boost Charitable Trust to provide weekly tennis coaching for local carers, with beneficiaries from St John's Harborne, Sense TouchBase Pears, and Cerebal Palsy West Midlands after an initial consultation with Birmingham Mental Health Carers Support Service. Our community engagement activities extend to offering work experience to students from a local school and offering winter memberships to two local clubs whose courts can't be used over the colder months. We also offer free membership to Ukrainian families who are currently hosted by members.

The society also endeavours to create a welcoming, safe, and inclusive playing environment, which is achieved in a number of different ways. To promote safeguarding, we have appointed two dedicated welfare officers who can be contacted for any issues. Volunteering (e.g. for the House & Grounds team, bar staff etc.) is positively encouraged to get members involved and invested in the maintenance of the club. Environmental sustainability is promoted by the separate recycling of plastic, card, glass bottles, and  aluminium cans in receptacles around the site, and court care/treatment methods are continually reviewed to reduce the amount of chemicals used. Members and volunteers are encouraged to repair or reuse equipment, which enables the club to reduce costs and champion a green, sustainable ethos.

This collective effort has seen membership increase from 195 pre-Covid to 278 in December 2022, a fantastic rate of growth that is testament to the dedication and hard work of the Committee, volunteers, and all members who help make the Society what it is. Thanks especially go to Neil Glasspool for compiling the application and driving forward so many of the recent iniatives.

Here's to another great year in 2023!