Celebrations were in order at Romsey & Abbey Tennis Club this weekend as it became the 201st tennis club in the country to be awarded Beacon Status by the LTA. Beacon Status is a special award given to clubs and places to play that provide exceptional commitment to making tennis more accessible and affordable in the local community. The award, which was presented to the club by the local LTA Development Officer Andy Trott, is in recognition of the club’s efforts to build a local community tennis club that is open to everyone.
In a show of community support for the club, many parents and children were on hand for the presentation. The club would also like to thank local Test Valley councillors Ian Hibberd and Ian Richards, and the Deputy Mayor for Romsey, Cllr Mark Cooper for attending the presentation and showing their support for the club and its future. Speaking at the presentation, Club Secretary Gill Pletcher thanked everyone for attending, as well as the club’s coach Richard Libby, who was instrumental in achieving this award and who has worked tirelessly and with great enthusiasm over the last two years to grow the club’s community programme, creating many new initiatives to get children and adults playing tennis in Romsey. This includes running low cost community coaching programmes with free equipment, free starter sessions, and working with local community groups, charities and schools. In addition a number of outreach programmes has been initiated which has also resulted in the club achieving StreetMark accreditation for the delivery of doorstep sport in the community. Speaking about the award, Coach Richard Libby said “We have achieved so much because of the close relationship between the coach and the club's committee, and how well our goals marry together. With this award we will continue in our efforts to create a true community tennis club that will become the blueprint for future clubs to use.
Club Secretary Gill Pletcher also spoke about the club’s future hopes and plans to secure the needed funding to replace its courts and clubhouse, which will enable the club to continue and grow its work within the community. In the two years since the amalgamation of Romsey and Abbey Tennis Clubs, the new club has achieved a great deal, due to the hard work of its committee, coach and members, with the most basic of facilities, and if the club’s long term plans are to be achieved it needs facilities to match. This it hopes to achieve as a community facility in partnership with Test Valley Borough Council and the LTA. Speaking about its future plans the club coach said “We have so many things we wish to do; this month we are launching a junior disability tennis programme, which will focus on wheelchair tennis and children with additional learning needs. In addition we also have our girls club starting this month aimed at getting more girls aged between 12-17 playing tennis and are revamping our schools programme with a more comprehensive range of activities for schools.
More information on Romsey & Abbey Tennis Club and opportunities for playing tennis can be found on its website www.ratc.org.uk.