Training pays dividends for Grantham Tennis Club ladies' first team
Grantham Tennis Club and Gym's first team ladies finished third in the Lincolnshire Division One, a highly competitive league held throughout the summer months.
This year David Lloyd Burton Waters re-entered the division with a strong team, and Bourne were promoted from Division Two. Also in the league were the top teams from Boston, Louth and St James (Grimsby) tennis clubs.
Each match consisted of two doubles pairings playing both opposition pairs over two sets, with a shootout tie-break to determine the winners if necessary.
If the match is all square after both rounds, then one player from the first pair and one from the second pair play together in a 10-point shootout tie-break. All very exciting or nerve-wracking, depending on whether one is on the court or watching.
Division One is always very close, and no team is ever really safe from relegation, so the shootouts are always crucial. Over the season, the GTC ladies were on the receiving end of both a win and a loss shootout.
At the end of last season, the club decided to address the ladies' first team coaching and made it fun but fast-paced with tennis drills. These drills worked on all aspects of doubles, tactics and power play.
There were a set of ladies who regularly turned out for the team. Still, they needed new blood and younger legs, so some of GTC’s best junior young ladies trialled with this group.
They have done brilliantly and most regularly attend these weekly sessions. Some have also represented the club in summer matches.
Coach Stuart Calow was tasked with making the drills fast, fun and, more importantly, help improve everyone’s game. It was not an easy task with various ages, skill sets and experiences, but he did a great job.
He will continue to work with the ladies throughout the winter sessions while they compete in Division One of the Nottinghamshire Winter League.
The number of ladies captain Melanie Bloodworth could select for the matches was hugely increased by the success of the winter and spring coaching sessions.
Over the five fixtures, GTC was able to field a total of 13 players, three of whom were juniors (Polly Cullen, Bethany Aust and Imogen Clough), and Kathryn Garment even returned from Germany to play one game.
It was a hugely competitive league which was hard fought.
As teams entered into their last rounds, any one of three could have won the league (Grantham, Boston and David Lloyd Burton Waters). GTC finished third on countback games, but it was still a terrific effort from the whole team.
Team members who participated in matches were Lianne Firth, Sarah Patton, Laura Cooper, captain Melanie Bloodworth, vice-captain Megan Jones, Rachel Brook, Jo Jones, Jo Goodberry, Kathryn Garment, Sophie Fletcher, Polly Cullen, Bethany Aust and Imogen Clough.
Other players who play for the ladies' first team but were unavailable for these matches included Sophie Munks, Sophie Lager, Steffi Ainsworth and Eve Kimberley. GTC will welcome Cathy Fawcett into the squad for the coming season.