Active Girton: Girton Tennis Club
Girton Tennis Club has been around for a long time. Lesley-Ann Parker, the current Secretary, isn't sure exactly how long, but thinks it was started in the 1950s. Nowadays this very family-friendly club, "full of commitment and talent" (in Lesley-Ann's words), enjoys the support of some 100 members, of all ages: as soon as you can hold a racket, you can play (or at any rate start to learn).
Girton is very fortunate in its sports facilities, and the hard courts and MUGA (Multi-Use Games Area) at the Recreation Ground mean that in principle at least, tennis doesn't have to be a summer-only activity. The Parish Council, which owns the courts, hires them out to the Tennis Club for its regular club meetings (they are also used by the Glebe School and Cambridge Academy of English, and are available for hire by private individuals).
Club nights at the Recreation Ground are particularly useful for enabling players to find a partner at an appropriate level, and also give players a chance to play more competitively and improve their game. The popular Friday club night runs from 7.30 p.m. year-round. In the summer months, when it is warmer, it begins with an earlier evening "junior knock-up" starting at 6.30, when committee members are available to give advice and instruction to youngsters who are newer to the game. The club has qualified First Aiders and committee members with current CRB checks, as safety and fun go hand in hand for the Tennis Club. A second weekly club night is held on Wednesdays during the summer, starting at 7.30. From mid-April the club also hires the MUGA for Friday evening use. Doubles are normally played to accommodate everyone on a club night and then only four games are played in a set so that everyone gets a chance to play and with different partners.
In high summer you can play in good light until well into the evening, but the courts also have floodlights for year-round tennis, which were installed in 2007 after much hard work by committed tennis members and funding from Girton Town Charity, with additional monies from both the Parish Council and the Tennis Club itself. However, access to the Pavilion (and therefore to the floodlights) is only possible when committee members are present, i.e. during club nights, so midnight knockabouts are not the order of the day! That said, members of Girton Tennis Club for a small deposit can have a court key which enables them to play at any time the courts are free, weather and light permitting.
The club has had fantastic support from several Girton families over the years, with children succeeding parents in achieving tennis success. For the keenly competitive, during the summer months from May to August teams are entered for Cambridgeshire Lawn Tennis Association League matches. Although anyone can put themselves up for a team, the captains (Andy Luff for the Men's team, Lesley-Ann Parker for the Mixed, and Sue Hoyland for the Ladies) pick their teams and have the final say. There are quite stiff penalties for entering a team in a competition and then pulling out at the last minute, so this aspect is taken seriously. But if you are keen on playing competitively, membership of Girton Tennis Club includes affiliation to the LTA (which also provides insurance), and members can participate in other official LTA tournaments apart from those organized from Girton. In the past the club has raised a few junior County players, so perhaps similar successes await future team members!
Apart from the core business of playing tennis, there are of course social advantages to belonging to the club. Some blithe spirits will gather in the pub after the Friday club night, and each Christmas is celebrated with a club dinner. The LTA also allocates a number of Wimbledon tickets to the club each year (how many depends on the numbers of members signed up by the end of the previous April), and then the club organises its "Wimbledon Draw" with some fantastic pairs of tickets. The selection might just include tickets for the Men's or Women's Finals - surely a chance no tennis fan would want to miss. The club's excellent committee deals with problems such as damage to the nets with promptness and efficiency, and club rules are simple - the main ones being that you must wear non-marking soles on the courts, and under-16s can only play if accompanied by an adult, to ensure responsible use of the facilities. The committee even provides the balls for club nights!
Membership fees currently run at £94 for a one-year Family Membership, £42 for Adults, and £16 for Juniors (i.e. those under 21 and in full-time education). The fees will rise by £10 for Families and £5 for the other categories in mid-April, so hurry and take advantage of the current rates while you can! Anyone can join and the club is not exclusive to Girton residents. If you're interested in learning more, contacts are listed below, or just turn up at the courts on a Friday club night between 7.30 and 9.00 p.m. and talk to someone there. Whether tennis is your favourite sport or a skill you would like to acquire, and whatever your playing level, you will be sure to find a happy, friendly base in Girton Tennis Club.
Secretary: Lesley-Ann Parker
Membership: Kevin Keeves
Web site: www.girtontennis.org