PERSHORE Tennis Centre welcomed nearly 200 people through its doors on Saturday as it officially switched on the new LED lights on the indoor courts.
The lights were funded last year by Sport England, the Lawn Tennis Association, Severn Waste and other grants and a number of honorary guests including representatives from Herefordshire & Worcestershire LTA, South Warwickshire All Season (SWAS) Tennis League, Pershore Tennis Centre directors, the lighting installers and Harriett Baldwin MP were greeted with wine and nibbles for the special occasion.
Then, after a short speech by Niall O’Loghlen, West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin unveiled a plaque. As the crowds counted down on the indoor courts and the lights were switched on, the MP hit the first few balls on court with ex-Great Britain Davis Cup player Danny Sapsford.
Sapsford and fellow ex-GB Davis Cup player Luke Milligan are from a charity called Bright Ideas for Tennis, which allows the professional players and coaches to visit hosting clubs at no cost so that all profits from the day’s events can go directly to the club itself to raise funds towards getting more people involved in tennis.
Sapsford and Milligan began a fun and busy afternoon of coaching clinics starting with the youngsters aged between five and ten, followed by a teens session, an adult session and then a session aimed at the club’s competing team members.
Whilst the professional coaches had a brief rest, the radar guns came out for the fastest serve competition. A bottle of champagne was won by both Mike Langston for the fastest male serve and Beth Excell for the fastest female, whilst Dan Walker and Imogen Looker shared the prize for the fastest junior serve with a very respectable 76mph!
The professional coaches were soon back on court to raise funds for another charity – Funny Blood – when first year business students from University of Worcester tried to hit seven balls past the professionals as the first part of a fund-raiser in which they are completing seven challenges in as many weeks.
The afternoon event was rounded off by the professionals playing a thrilling exhibition match with Pershore coaches Steve Bauer and Mike Langston whilst the crowds cheered on.
The whole atmosphere at the club was fantastic throughout the busy afternoon with food, raffle prizes, a quiz, some new tennis skills learnt, a lot of fun and £1,400 raised towards the club’s funds.
The new LED lights are superb. (s)