No sooner had Novak Djokovic’s backhand hit the net and Andy Murray staggered around Wimbledon’s centre court in giddy celebration, Eastbourne’s tennis clubs were eying the next generation.
Murray’s success was watched by millions around the globe but the hope locally is to increase participation on the town’s courts.
Eastbourne has a long-standing tradition as a tennis town; thanks mainly to the pre-Wimbledon event at Devonshire Park that has been running for 40 years.
Murray himself graced the courts when he competed for Great Britain against Israel in the Davis Cup in 2006.
He also made a surprise return to the town in 2009 when he gave County Cup players the shock of the lives as he represented the North of Scotland against Hertfordshire.
Murray, playing against a student and a banker from Hertfordshire, unsurprisingly won all of his matches but that wasn’t enough to stop North of Scotland losing the tie 5-4.
The tennis coaches of Eastbourne are now determined to cash in on the recent Murray mania and believe the town has the facilities and the qualified coaches to encourage future talent.
Tennis in the Park, at Gildredge Park, is run by coach Francis Mackie and was recently awarded Park Club of the year by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).
The David Lloyd boasts indoor and recently revamped outdoor courts and is fronted by the ever-enthusiastic LTA qualified coach Luciano Cestari. Jenny Hughes runs the floodlit Hampden Park courts while the excellent Rompa tennis club in Upper Meads offers fantastic grass courts with floodlights. The Sports Park is affiliated by the LTA and has a number of indoor courts while there is free tennis to hand on the tarmac of Gildredge Park and on the seafront by the Fishermen’s Club.
Mackie of Tennis in the Park, said, “It was a fantastic achievement from Andy Murray and we are all hoping it will have a very positive impact for British tennis. We are a small community club but we have picked up around 10 new members during Wimbledon and the phones have been very lively. The challenge for us is to take the opportunity, seize the moment and get people playing.”
David Lloyd’s Cestari added, “Here the membership count has increased a lot.
“We are very lucky as we have two ex-Wimbledon players working and coaching here.
“Players starting tennis always need a bit of tutoring and we can certainly help people with that and get them going down the right path.”
The David Lloyd will hold a festival of tennis on July 13-14. Contact 01323 509972 for more details.