Club profile: Tennis

Jamie Melrose

Amongst the clamour and commotion made by hundreds of boozed up athletes at GUSA ball, one club remained silent. As individuals and teams received their awards, a group of 35 people sat in nervous anticipation. The ‘Club of the year’ award is the last to be announced, its prestige unmatched. As the secretary noted the many attributes of the recipient club, subtle grins began to creep across the faces of tennis club members.  ‘Club of the year goes to… TENNIS’!

The announcement was met with almost premature celebrations, screams, hugs and even some tears. Last year’s captains accepted the award and were greeted on return by the warm embrace of 35 finely dressed tennis players. Countless congratulatory texts and phone calls soon flooded in from tennis members, past and present. The ‘Club of the year award’ at GUSA ball 2013 had been a long time coming. Tennis at Glasgow has grown from strength to strength over the past few years. But, like most things great, the tennis club came from humble beginnings.

It was in 1881 that the tennis club was officially formed as one of the four founding sports of GUAC (today known as GUSA).  The club’s founding members numbered only 12 people, smaller than today’s committee! In more recent history the club has entered into an era of administrative excellence. The employment of full time coaches and the use of hired courts close to the University made tennis more accessible. The club became dedicated to socially integrating members, running recreational sessions and developing tennis at all levels of ability. The success of the club has been reflected in a membership boom, from 130 members in 2010, to 160 in 2011 up to a membership of almost 200 people today. The club has a strong set of traditions, solidified by providing quality tennis to students for over 130 years!

The tennis club is now one of the largest student-run organisations at Glasgow University and one of the biggest and most active sports clubs on campus.  The club is run by an elected committee of 13, headed by a joint presidency of a Women’s and Men’s Club Captain. The club trains 4 times a week on hired courts, this includes one indoor session. The sessions are ‘drop in’ and members are encouraged to come down anytime that suits them. Sessions are on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1-4pm at Dowanhill courts and on Sunday from 7-9pm at David Lloyd in Anniesland. The club employs three coaches, led by Head coach Dave Birrell. Everything needed to play tennis is provided (rackets, balls etc.).

The Tennis club has five teams, two ladies and three men’s.  Together they have made significant achievements in both the British and Scottish University leagues. Highlights from last year include the men’s 2nd team making it all the way to the 2nd league final. This year the men’s first team successfully battled to stay in the top division of the Scottish league whilst both of the ladies teams are 2nd place in their respective leagues. The new men’s 3rd team is testament to the Clubs emphasis on development. The third team serves primarily as a rotational team and has allowed many an advanced player to try their hand at competitive tennis. All teams compete in the Scottish cup and Scottish trophy events in the winter season. The club also managed to secure a clear win in this year’s Glasgow cup. Headed by Team Captains, Cameron Alexander and Seona Grant, the club has managed to field teams for every match.

Despite its competitive track record the club is, more than anything else, recreational. Over the past few years there has been a focus on getting new people to try tennis, to enjoy the health and social benefits of club sport at Glasgow and generally to enhance the university experience of members. With three coaches on hand, individual coaching slots, sessions dedicated to beginners and free equipment for members the club has managed to get a record number of people playing tennis, many of whom had never picked up a racket before! Every year many dedicated tennis players graduate, sad to bid farewell to their beloved club. This has given the club a very strong link with past alumni and the club shows its appreciation to past members by holding an alumni tournament followed by a ceilidh. The club’s strong affiliation with the Lawn Tennis association, established last year, and the resources gained from this special relationship have been effectively utilised in developing tennis within the University community.

The tennis club is a big player on the club social scene.  With a membership body spanning over many different degrees, ages and cultures there is always someone new and interesting to meet. The tennis club provides many a night out and social adventure to allow members to get to know one another off the court. Socials to look out for include the sub crawl, pub golf, the alumni ceilidh, mini tours, the end of year tour to Portugal and many more!

The club is now considering expanding into disabled tennis, introducing new health and fitness activities such as cardio and touch tennis, organising more competitions, bringing in new equipment, developing new coaches, affiliating with more organisations and strengthening links with other clubs and societies on campus. With all this in mind it is hoped that, with a dedicated committee, the club will be able to overcome any future problems and will continue to develop tennis and enhance the ‘University experience’ of many more students to come.