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Tennis club invests in search for future stars
1:00pm Tuesday 12th March 2013 in News
CONTINUING our series on sports that featured in the 2012 London Olympics, Pete Hughes takes a look at tennis
TENNIS is synonymous with sunny days, strawberries and cream – and intense drama on the court.
This contrast was highlighted in Andy Murray’s defeat of his Swiss nemesis, Roger Federer, on the home turf of Wimbledon at the summer’s Olympics.
Seth Dixon, head coach at the Oxford City Lawn Tennis Club (OCLTC), said: “It will bring out the best and the worst in people.”
In the heart of East Oxford, OCLTC attracts players from around the world, including students.
The club is particularly attractive to expert players and traditionalists because of its six grass courts.
But on grass the ball bounces flatter and faster, and less predictably than on a hard court – making the subtleties of a grass court game the preserve of the most experienced players.
So to attract more young players to tennis, the club is planning a fundraising drive to raise the £100,000 needed to replace the grass with asphalt.
“As a coach,” said Mr Dixon, 37, “thousands of players become hundreds of intermediates, which becomes a very small number of professional players.
“I want as many people to be able to play as possible, to find those potential stars.”
Vice chairman Hugh Fixsen, 60, who started playing tennis when he was 40, said: “There are plenty of people who fail to see what tennis is all about, and they can get pretty unpleasant.
“You will see a ball as out which was in, and you will never know the answer.
“People will get incredibly upset.
“But then, there are also cheats. That all conspires to make it an incredibly volatile game.”
The club, one of more than 70 in Oxfordshire, has around 150 members, and its men’s A team is top of the Thames Valley league.
To find out more, go to oxfordcitytennis.org.uk or to find your nearest club go to lta.org.uk and search for Oxfordshire. Young players go to fairplaytennis.com for tennis holiday camps and weekly squads and individual training.
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