Coach Carl Douglas and ‘Hot Shots’ junior player Ellie Hall have won two Suffolk LTA awards for ‘Development Coach of the Year’ and ‘Young Person of the Year’.
Carl originally found his passion for tennis through his children, who had begun to play at their local club in Felixstowe. Carl worked at BT at the time but got qualified so that he could help at the club, eventually becoming a
regular volunteer coach, helping to coach children and adults of all ages. His efforts in “giving back” to his local community were recognised when he was selected to be one of BT’s official torchbearers in the London 2012 Olympics.
Carl eventually took the decision to retire from BT in 2017 but wanted to stay active so got involved with a small community club, Bramford Tennis Club, which at that time only had nine members and was in danger of closing its doors for good. Since Carl’s arrival, the club has gone from strength to strength, opening a junior squad, an adult’s squad, a cardio tennis class, and private bespoke coaching sessions. His efforts clearly haven’t gone unnoticed.
Carl told us: “It’s always nice to know that your efforts are appreciated, but I don’t do the job for that, it’s more about seeing them have fun, that’s the greatest award. It always shows me that I’m doing something worthwhile.”
Carl wasn’t the only one to get recognition for their efforts, Ellie Hall, a junior ‘Hot Shots’ player who also helps out with the children’s classes, also won an award for ‘Young Person of the Year’.
Ellie said: “I was shocked when I got the award because I knew Carl and the other parents had nominated me, but I didn’t expect to get anywhere. I was just glad that he’d nominated me, so it was so strange to see that I’d won. I’d like to say thank you to everyone who nominated me, it’s nice to see that people have noticed that I’m here on a Tuesday helping out and that they appreciate it.”
Ellie’s mum, who has joined the adult’s class alongside Ellie, told us: “I joined Bramford Tennis Club because of Ellie. I used to play with another club, but it just got really boring. We’ve been here just under a year, and it’s been lovely. Carl makes it special; it’s always interesting and fun. Tennis has gotten Ellie so fit and helped her confidence too. We’re all talking about arranging a night away to play and enjoy some wine, so that’s the kind of dynamic you’ll find here!”
Carl hopes that these awards will raise awareness of the club in the local community and says that everyone should give tennis a go as it’s a great social sport that all ages can play. Right now, the club is focusing on raising funds to install a kiosk of sorts for the players to use and a flexible floodlighting solution for court one so that they can use all three courts year-round.
On Ellie’s win, Carl says: “I think it’s fantastic for one of our young players to get an award because getting teenagers to be active can be challenging. I’m very proud of Ellie, she is incredible at motivating the younger players and is acting as a real role model for them.”
Bramford Tennis Club frequently runs open days to allow people to try out the facilities, but ad-hoc visits can also be arranged. Feel free to check out their website and Facebook page or get in contact with Carl: [email protected] / 07553 966380