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Father and Son: Paul and Fin Smith, Winchcombe Tennis Club

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Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 09:00

Father and son pairing Paul and Fin Smith Father and son pairing Paul and Fin Smith

Father and son Paul and Fin Smith get on pretty well, which is a good job because they play tennis together every week.

And they play at a decent standard too because they are in the Winchcombe A men’s team who play in Division 1A of the Gloucestershire Summer League, one level below the top flight.

Teams are made up of four, and Smith and Smith junior are the club’s number one pairing.

“We get on really well on court,” said Paul Smith. “We talk tactics and discuss the opposition.

“It’s good fun, especially now he’s better than me, he can cover me and he does a lot of the running!

“We play off his strengths rather than mine, it’s just the older one giving way to the youngster.”

So, who wins in a match between the two of them?

“Ah, that’s where mind games come in,” laughed Paul, who at 56 is 35 years older than Fin. “Probably he would. I think I had the last victory when we played about six months ago but he’s improved a lot since then.”

Paul Smith is one of the founder members of Winchcombe Tennis Club, a club which was established in 2017 and is based at Winchcombe School.

Like all grassroots clubs they suffered during the various lockdowns, but at the time of writing they had 187 members, 77 of which are juniors.

The number of juniors is a source of pride for the club and Paul said: “That’s down to our coach Liam Gough.

“He works really hard to develop the youngsters. He holds a number of coaching sessions for the juniors and also runs holiday clubs.”

The hope is that today’s juniors will become tomorrow’s seniors, of course, and there are certainly plenty of opportunities to play at the club at any level.

“We’ve got three men’s teams in the Gloucestershire Summer League and three ladies’ teams in the ladies’ league,” said Paul, who has been chairman of the club for the past three years. “We’ll also have two mixed teams in the winter league.

“New members are always welcome as we have both well-attended social and team sessions. Everyone will find a group to suit their ability.”

Paul, as well as being a key player and club chairman, is also teams manager, a position he has held since the club was formed. This essentially means arranging the men’s league fixtures, a job that is not as straightforward as it sounds as anyone who has done a similar role in any sport will know.

He was also the A team captain but he has now handed that role on to Darren Peck.

But while he may have relinquished one title, his commitment to the club has not reduced because he is currently doing an LTA coaching course, something that will obviously benefit the club in the months and years to come.

Young Fin, a former Winchcombe School pupil, has obviously benefited from his dad’s guidance on a tennis court but, sadly, their partnership is going to be broken up in a few months’ time because Fin is planning to go travelling.

That will be good news for Winchcombe’s opponents, of course, because there’s no doubt they make a pretty formidable pairing.

So, what are Paul’s strengths as a tennis player?

“My serve,” he said, “and the ability to be able to read a game. Knowing how to win, you’ve got to learn how to win.”

And Fin’s strengths?

“He’s got a huge serve,” said his dad, an IT manager who lives in Winchcombe. “It must be touching 100mph.

“His groundstrokes are very good too, he uses a lot of top spin, it’s horrible to play against. The ball kicks up and you’re taking the ball above head high.”

It’s easy to see why Dad likes playing with him so much!

Smith senior is originally from Somerset and played county badminton as a junior back in the day.

He moved to this part of the world just before the turn of the century – he originally lived in Cheltenham – and played tennis for Beckford for a number of years before helping to set up Winchcombe Tennis Club.

And the good news is that he plans to keep on playing for a good while yet.

“I’ll play until my body says ‘no more’,” he said.

He’ll also be hoping to renew his tennis partnership with Fin when he returns from his travels!

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