One of the wonderful things about our club is the supportive network it provides and I have a story to tell you. It must have been about 13 years ago when a 15 year old boy joined our club from another club. When he joined the club he was not a bad player but really struggled in competition especially with his temper. It always seemed to me that the red mist clouded his ability to perform and this was a great shame knowing the potential he had especially as he's a great athlete and more importantly a great person. Myself and the coaches got to work with him and one of the key ingredients was to build his self-esteem. His confidence was low because he was very self-critical and any little mistake that he made he punished himself for. As you can imagine this type of work takes many years to implement but over time it was evident to see how much he had changed. He was a lot happier within himself and this also reflected in his schoolwork.
Tragically at the age of 17 his mum was diagnosed with cancer and his world started to implode. His father worked very hard to protect him from what was happening within the family home and saw tennis as his outlet or retreat to get away from it all. Both myself and the coaching team all knew what was happening and again it was our job to support him while he needed it.
Sadly the cancer spread very quickly and his mother passed away within a matter of months. As you can imagine this was a tragic time for him especially as he was going into A-Level exams. Tennis was his savior. He knew that he could come to the club and take any emotional baggage and challenge it into hitting balls. There were many moments where tears were shed and open talks held to help relieve the pain. It took an enormous amount of courage to cope with this situation and perform well in his exams, which led to him having the opportunity to go to University and get his degree.
While he was studying away he'd occasionally pop back to the tennis club to say hello which was always a pleasure, as we absolutely love it when previous players that we've helped over the years show their face. Once he had graduated I hadn't heard anything from him for the last seven years but recently, now at 28, he popped into the club to say hello and that he was grateful for the support he had at that time. He's now working for the government and doing very well for himself and I'm pleased to say is still keeping up his tennis.
There are many stories like this where sports and clubs are pivotal places to improve people's lives and you never know when you'll need the people around you until the time comes. I am so proud of all the players who have come through our program over the years and this is testament to the parents that have made this great decision to give their children a great start in life. I also see the friendships and support amongst the adults at the club.
Stony Stratford Tennis Club is more than just a tennis club, it's a community and I am privileged to be able to be a part of this to help people in any way I can. I'd like to thank you all for your continued support and if there is any way in which myself and the coaching team can support you further, then please let us know.
Director of Tennis