20 years of coaching success for Ali Ward

Within everyone who plays tennis there is recognition that the sport demands skills, and that there is no end to the improvement that can be achieved – whatever the starting point.  At Royal Wootton Bassett Tennis Club we are privileged to enjoy the services of a fantastic coaching team who can help everyone from absolute beginners to Wimbledon competitors develop their enjoyment of the game.  And leading the coaching team is head coach Ali Ward – who this year celebrates 20 years with our club.

Ali caught the coaching bug following a spell of work experience and took the plunge as assistant coach at Pewsey Tennis Club – under the watchful eye of John Bastin (remember this name).   Promotion to head coach at Devizes followed, and then Ali took some time away from tennis.  What brought him back was watching Wimbledon on the TV – a pivotal event in his career, from which he has not looked back. 

Joining RWB Tennis Club in 2004, Ali soon took an interest in wheelchair tennis and began an extremely successful coaching partnership with Louise Hunt.  Over the course of 20 years, Louise reached number 10 in the world in singles and doubles competing in two Wimbledon Championships and two Paralympics (image shows Louise and Ali in the commentry box at Wimbledon).  Ali has continued coaching wheelchair tennis and is now working with Ollie Cox, currently 46th in the world in Quad Division, and aiming for top 10 over the next 18 months.

Further confirmation of Ali’s coaching skills came earlier this year with him being recognised by Wiltshire LTA as Performance Coach of the Year.  Having access at our club to coaching of this standard is a massive benefit for members and non-members alike.  And to help Ali deliver a wide range of courses and sessions are other members of the team – Shaun Smith, Chris Long and - yes, John Bastin.  Full circle indeed!  Ali also has support from three female level 1 coaches who are growing into the role.  This powerful team offers group and individual sessions to help build tennis skills and general fitness.  New additions are ‘walking tennis’ and pickleball, both forms of the game that open up sport to a new and diverse audience.

Ali’s association with the tennis club has been of huge benefit for sport and fitness in the town.  Outside the club, he works tirelessly with his team to promote tennis in local schools and encourages players of all ages, including military veterans, to engage in physical activity and enjoy communal sport.   Ali has been a huge benefit to Royal Wootton Bassett Tennis Club over the past 20 years and all of us at the Club look forward to working with Ali for many more years to come!