The annual Tennis Wales awards have recognised the people and organisations that have contributed most to the sport during the past year.
The winners include players, volunteers, coaches, clubs and centres, as well as local authorities.
The awards were presented by Professor Laura McAllister, chair of Sport Wales, in a ceremony hosted by TV presenter Arfon Haines Davies, at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on Saturday night (October 6).
“The awards recognise our most talented people, but also reward those who make it possible for thousands to enjoy tennis in Wales every week,” said Tennis Wales chief executive Peter Drew.
“Over the past 12 months we have continued to increase our membership to over 14,000 players across Wales,” he added. “We also have hundreds of coaches and volunteers who make tennis accessible at the heart of our communities.”
Award winners were:
Volunteer of the Year - Paul Sinnadurai (South Powys),
Paul is chairman of Brecon Tennis Club and a leading voice in tennis development in the area, having become involved in tennis when his boys started attending a local authority tennis coaching scheme at Brecon Leisure Centre in 2009.
His achievements over the past year have included: co-founding Brecon Tennis Club, which now has 40 members; raising over £2,000 towards the club’s start-up costs; helping to establish year-round coaching sessions for local junior tennis players; playing a vital role in Brecon Leisure Centre receiving Beacon Site status in November 2011; and establishing strong links between the club and local schools.
Young Volunteer – Emily Watson (Colwyn Bay)
Emily is chair of the Schools Sports Council and a Silver Young Ambassador for Dyffryn Conwy School. Emily became a tennis leader in 2011 and undertook her tournament organiser’s course, making herself invaluable in umpiring and assisting in mini events and other competitions for junors and adults, and becoming captain of the Ladies 1st team in the North Wales League.
In her own time Emily has helped the lead coach with the Wales performance squads at the James Alexander Barr Tennis Centre twice a week throughout the year, also hitting with the potential mini stars. She has also worked with the head coach to run a parks programme for underprivileged children each Friday through the summer, and has just completed her UKCC Level 1 qualification.
Emily is currently Welsh Champion U18 and in the top 25 in Great Britain for her age group.
Performance Coach of the Year - Chris Lewis (Virgin Cardiff)
Chris works with junior players of county and regional standard, aged 12-18 in his role with Virgin Active, and is currently working with Wales men’s number 1, Josh Milton.
As Men’s National Junior Travelling Coach, Chris supports the head of Men’s Junior Tennis to execute an international tournament schedule for the top junior players in Britain. The role has involved staffing national training camps, travelling with GB teams to U14 & U16 Tennis Europe events as well as captaining the U14 GB Summer Cup Team in 2007 and 2011.
In the past year Chris has captained LTA trips to Slovenia and Germany and has worked as travelling coach for Johanna Konta, whose WTA ranking has come down from 310 to 205, and number 6 in GB.
Development Coach of the Year - Mark Thomas (Swansea Tennis Centre)
Mark is responsible for the management, implementation and continuous development of Swansea Tennis Centre’s coaching programme and has been a driving force behind the increase in numbers from 70 to an average of 300.
He has also been instrumental in the management and implementation of the Tennis in the Community campaign, which has seen Swansea Tennis Centre take its coaching programme across the city. Mark has mentored operational and junior coaching staff, and is also responsible for creating a unique bond between tennis centre staff and coaches.
Mark has inspired the further development of the tennis centre programme by creating different grades and levels within the programme, entrusting other staff to implement mini tour events, tennis clinics and other tennis related activities.
Club/Centre of the Year - Cardiff (Castle) LTC
In another successful year, the club has adopted the slogan ‘Learn, Play, Compete and Enjoy’. Under head coach John Williams the club has increased its British Tennis membership by 150, and its coaching workforce from two to five. The club runs an excellent squad system for children of all ages with an emphasis on development for matchplay. It now hosts its own Grade 3 event, with 240 entrants this year, and hosted the Junior Welsh Championships for the second successive year.
The club has also worked very closely with the Cardiff Stars club for adults and children with a learning disability, raising significant funds to support this charity. The club has 36 teams competing in all competitions, and 10 of these teams have either won promotion or indeed landed the Premier League title this year.
Team of the Year - South Wales Men’s County Team
The South Wales Men’s Team was promoted to group 1 for the first time in 10 years, enjoying good wins against the North of Scotland, Yorkshire and Suffolk. A must-win match on the penultimate day of the event against Hampshire saw South Wales go 4-2 down after the second round of matches, but they pulled together to win all three matches in the last round to secure promotion.
Wales number 1 Josh Milton served out the final match at 6-5 up in the third set to gain promotion. Jordan Helyer also performed exceptionally well, winning all 15 matches.
Player of the Year - Evan Hoyt (Llanelli)
Evan won the player award for the second year running, after another very successful 12 months. Evan represented GB in the U18 European Championships this summer, was a quarter-finalist in the Grade 1 ITF event in Casablanca, and reached the Junior Wimbledon Boys Doubles semi-final in July.
He was semi-finalist in a Grade 2 ITF event in Prato, Italy earlier this summer, a finalist Grade 2 ITF in Villena, Spain and is currently number 70 in the world junior rankings.
Local Authority - Powys
Powys retained the local authority award, having again driven tennis in the area through schools, Places to Play and competition.
The county developed a new Place to Play on a leisure centre site which will shortly receive Beacon status; 29% of North Powys Primary schools took part in the local authority stage of the primary schools competition; and an incredible 83% of secondary schools in North Powys took part in the AEGON Team Tennis Schools Year 8 and 10 North Wales competition.
In February, Powys ran a local authority forum on competition with four local clubs attending. The clubs then hosted and supported the Monty Tour competition circuit for junior and mini players – 60 local juniors competed in the events
Outstanding Contribution to tennis in Wales - Chris Rudkin
Chris has been involved in tennis in North Wales and Wales-wide for well over 30 years. He has been a player, a member of Penyffordd Tennis Club and involved with the development and promotion of the game in many ways.
In 2006 Chris was awarded the LTA Meritorious Service Award for long and outstanding service to Tennis.
From 1981 onwards he has been involved at Welsh level with the Welsh LTA and Tennis Wales. During this time he was heavily involved in the Strategy Committee and was the first chairman of the Tennis Wales Executive 1996–1998 and subsequently the chairman of the Tennis Committee.
Outstanding Achievement - Swansea365 team and the Swansea Tennis Centre led by Barry Cawte and Collette Richards
The centre, which was closed by the council in March 2011, was taken over by a trust group and now has over 1000 regular users. The number of people on a coaching programme has increased from 70 to over 600, most of them children, and there are over 100 players competing in 12 different competitions.
The club has opened up new markets through innovative tennis formats and activities with 15 sessions per week of Zumba and Cardio Tennis. The committed and innovative staff have transformed the centre and turned it around from making a substantial financial loss to now making a healthy profit.
The centre is now recognised by the LTA as setting the standard for tennis delivery in indoor centres across Britain.
Information on all aspects of tennis in Wales is available from Tennis Wales at 029 20 463335 or www.lta.org.uk/in-your-area/Wales/