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Simon and Ruth Thomas have done so much for Charlton Kings Tennis Place over past 12 years

Cheltenham > Sport > Tennis

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Friday, 27th March 2020, 09:00

Simon and Ruth Thomas Simon and Ruth Thomas

Charlton Kings Tennis Place has always prided itself on the fact that it provides something for everyone.

If you want to play fun tennis you can, if you want to play serious tennis you are just as welcome and for those who want to get better there is a top-drawer coaching programme in place.

Now the club, which is based at Balcarras School in Charlton Kings, is offering even more - once the current crisis is over - because they have been able to more than double the number of courts they’ve got from three to seven.

“This season is really exciting for us as we will be using an additional four courts that were constructed last autumn at the school,” said Simon Thomas, who helps run the club with his wife Ruth and was speaking before the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is great news for us as previously we have been close to capacity so we weren’t able to push for new members.”

The club, which was formed in 2008, currently have some 160 members but Thomas is hopeful that number could increase more in years to come.

“I’d like to get it up even further in the next three to five years, that’s the aim,” said 52-year-old Thomas.

“The club has really developed since it was formed, it’s been fantastic.”

And the club really has developed because last year they won Gloucestershire LTA’s community and parks venue award and two years ago Balcarras School, with whom the tennis club work very closely, won the national LTA education award.

“We’ve also won coach and club of the year awards so have built some recognition,” added Thomas.

Indeed they have. The club operates from April until the end of October although from September it is weekends only.

They have two teams competing in the Gloucestershire Ladies’ Summer League and one team in the men’s county league and also offer an extensive coaching programme.

Thomas said: “We’ve done really well but we’ve not looked to increase our membership numbers because we didn’t have enough courts, now we can.”

About 80 of their current membership are juniors and Thomas reckons that about half of the 140 on their coaching programmes are members so there’s obviously scope there as well.

“We try to be a little bit different; we try to offer something for everyone,” said Thomas, “we want as many people to play as possible.”

And that’s the big reason why they call themselves Charlton Kings Tennis Place and not Charlton Kings Tennis Club.

“We thought the word ‘club’ might put people off,” he explained. “We’re very much community-minded and we thought if people hadn’t played for 20 years and they fancy playing again they might not join a ‘club’ because they’d think they weren’t good enough.

“That’s why we settled on ‘tennis place’. We want an environment which isn’t scary.

“We’re an inclusive community club, we play tennis every day in the summer. The club opens once school finishes.

“We’ve got great links with the school, I go in at 7.30am on Monday mornings and do some free pre-school coaching and I’d say about half our juniors members are from Balcarras.”

Thomas knows his tennis. His mum is Felicity Thomas, the seriously good senior tennis player who plays all over the globe with considerable success.

She is a member at East Glos and Simon Thomas said with a laugh: “I’m not as good as her!”

“I’ve been playing tennis since I was five or six,” he continued. “I used to play at East Glos and I played county junior tennis.”

He loved his tennis when he was younger – still does – and now he and his wife are trying to ensure that as many people as possible in Charlton Kings and the surrounding area get the chance to enjoy the great summer game as well.

Other Images

Charlton Kings Tennis Place now has seven courts

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