Chairperson – Gregory Fields Tennis Club, Highburton, Huddersfield
My love of tennis didn’t start until I was 40, I remember it vividly. It was a sudden decision at the end of a very cold, wet hockey season where I had spent countless hours travelling up and down the A1 to away matches to get beaten black and blue by someone’s hockey stick. Isn’t it about time to do something else? After all, tennis is a summer game, the leagues are local and tennis balls pack less of a punch! What’s not to like? And so my love affair with tennis began.
From joining Gregory Fields in the late 1990’s, I have played regularly, even making the league teams, which I absolutely love. My first volunteer role was as team captain for a couple of years, then secretary and since March 2019, club chairperson. The whole being of a membership club is based on a team of volunteers who play an active part in both keeping and improving the show on the road and we are lucky as a club to have had many people over the years who have stepped up into committee posts.
As a small club, we have three floodlit courts and are entirely reliant on member subscriptions and match fees. The last three months have presented us, as with all other tennis clubs, a unique set of challenges to keep going and retain as many members as possible. We have tried to maintain regular contact with existing members as well as trying to welcome new members in a socially distanced sort of way over the past 3 weeks. As club chairperson, I chair the AGM and the committee meetings and try to encourage the committee to think strategically about how to position the club so that it remains viable and a place where people want to become members. Last year, our focus was safeguarding and ensuring the club governance was sound. This year our focus is on increasing membership and the variety of tennis that is available to all age groups. How far that will be able to proceed we don’t know yet but we are very up for any challenge that 2020 throws at us. It is a great privilege to work with other committee members who share my passion for tennis and it is very much a team effort. It is also extremely rewarding to see new members joining the club, new fledgling playing partnerships start off and people of all ages having great fun on the courts.