The Dedanists' Foundation
We are a grant-giving charity (No. 1145526) created with the sole aim of increasing youth involvement in Real Tennis. Our game has too few young players and our aim is to get young people impassioned about our sport and to harness the enthusiasm, knowledge and skills of the games professionals and its clubs.
If you would like to support us, please contact David Mills, Josh Farrall, Paul Weaver or Julian Wilkinson. Alternatively, you can donate by visiting our donations page.
Latest news .....
The Dedanists Pro-Am 2022
The 16th annual Dedanists Handicap Doubles Pro-Am was held on 7th July 2022 at Queen’s Club. It was a great success and raised funds to be shared by the Dedanists’ Foundation and the Dedanists’ Society. The Foundation funds clubs to recruit new young players and schools into the game on an open-access basis. The Society runs the British Real Tennis Academy for the best young players in the country. We are most grateful to Paul Ioannou & David Doyle of the Queen’s Club for providing us with great food and excellent service.
Sixteen amateur players, mainly Dedanists, paid £490 each to play and donate. With handicaps ranging from 24 to 60, they were representative of the amateur game as a whole. They each played three round-robin matches against amateurs of similar handicaps for a place in the semi-finals. Each amateur played with four or more different professionals in the process.
We are especially grateful to the pros for playing in this tournament. We were particularly pleased to see Lewis Williams (Leamington) and Josh Smith (Holyport) who were taking part in the Pro-Am for the first time. The very presence of the professionals persuades amateurs to enter and donate. They moderate their play to bring out the best in amateur partners and opponents and entertain us with the quality of their play and banter. They also encourage us with gems of good advice.
The players were as follows:
Bray, Chris Licudi, Stewart Lowenthal, Andrew
Fahey, Claire McVittie, John Moore, Francis
Fahey, Rob McMurrugh, Mark Cripps, Simon
Jones, Dan Saunders, John Paterson, Ronald
Mackenzie, Neil Moore, Richard Leeper, James
Smith, Josh Mills, David Wilks, Willie
Williams, Lewis Bebb, Jamie Stogdon, Giles
Wood, Nick Readman, Luke Guy Egerton-Smith
Markers: Howard Angus & Ged Parsons
Stewart Licudi, Ronald Paterson, Johnny Saunders and Giles Stogdon won through to the semi-finals. Howard Angus reported that the standard of tennis in this year’s tournament was higher than ever before. Stewart Licudi beat Giles Stogdon in the final. It was great that a new participant in the Pro-Am from Radley RTC was the winner of the event. Dedanists’ Foundation Chairman, David Mills presented the trophy and prizes with his own blend of sharp wit and racy humour. He was ably assisted by Claire Fahey who added glamour to the prize-giving.
Many thanks also to Josh Farrall and Carl Snitcher for organising such a splendid day. Josh was much missed on the day but is making a good recovery from Covid.
PLH Cup FINAL 2021/22 Season
Victory for Seacourt in a thrilling Final
The final was played on the 12th June 2022. Teams from Oratory and Seacourt reached the final with Seacourt taking the trophy. The Oratory raced into a 2-0 lead, winning both of the opening singles matches. However from that point on, Seacourt gradually hauled their way back in to the match to triumph in the end 4-2. A great performance from the slightly older Oratory team who were giving handicaps in every match.
This inter-club junior team competition is aimed at giving juniors who are relatively new to the game a chance to take part in team matches and meet their junior counterparts from other clubs. All clubs will be contacted in the next few weeks with regards to participation in next years competition.
Are you under 21 and would like to have a go at playing real tennis? Email Paul Weaver on email@example.com to arrange for a free one hour coaching session at one of dozens of courts around the country. Why not come with a couple of friends and enjoy the experience together?
The 2022 Inter-University Tournament
Sponsored by the Dedanists' Foundation
Over the past 10 years the Dedanists'Foundation has given financial support to many university Real Tennis groups. We see university tennis as an important bridge between playing the game as a junior and playing again as an adult. This tournament is now the focal point in the universities’ real tennis calendar and this years event was a great success with 44 players from 7 universities playing singles and doubles, handicap and level over 3 days. The players were a mix of those new to the game (Dedanists’ Foundation country) and those more experienced.
The Annual Inter-University Real Tennis Tournament was a huge success this year thanks to sponsorships from the Dedanists Foundation and Pol Roger. The host (Cambridge University Real Tennis Club, CURTC) welcomed 7 universities from across the country: Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, Exeter, Middlesex, Oxford, and St. Andrews. All 44 tennis players demonstrated great athleticism and sportsmanship throughout the 3 day-long T&RA event (11th – 13th March). That said, the Middlesex players’ thunderous cheers and support for fellow players were inimitable. Indeed, it was a delightful event that brought many new and experienced tennis players together. The CURTC members also continued the tradition of providing home-baked cakes for players.
During Saturday's Pol Rogers Champagne reception a superb Exhibition match was played between two IiP Professionals: Jim Ludekens (Cambridge) and Jack Josephs (Middlesex). It was a thrilling match which displayed startlingly high-level tennis, captivating the audience, Jim won 8/7. The audience were also presented with homemade canapés by Mrs Ludekens for which the CURTC is most grateful. The Pol Rogers Champagne reception was followed by the tournament dinner; attendees included the Cambridge President, Vix Harvey, the Pros from Cambridge and Middlesex, and almost all players. For most students, the night extended to the blissful Cambridge town centre.
The finals were played on the subsequent Sunday morning. The Handicap Singles tournament trophy was raised by Hugo Pennant (Durham) who defeated Igor Sterner (Cambridge), 8-2. Despite Igor’s relentless fight, Hugo played incredibly with great finesse and executed both winning and defensive shots intelligently. The Inter-University Cup was won by a dominant Oxford team against Cambridge. Cambridge’s Patrick Smart and Aaron Wienkers kept the tension high with powerful winning shots, but Oxford’s Men’s 1st pair, Benedict Yorston and Louis Manson retaliated with astonishing tennis. Benedict’s speed and unimaginable retrieving, and Louis’s natural flair for penetrating volleys and returns startled Cambridge, sealing the final score at 3-0.
The CURTC has yet again hosted a fantastic T&RA event, and Ben Geytenbeek’s tireless effort and expertise in devising the draw, with contributions from Vix Harvey and the Cambridge Pros is highly commended. Events like this would not have been possible without the continued generous support from the Dedanists Foundation and Pol Roger. We hope to see even more players in 2023!
Report from Kees Ludekens - Head Pro at Cambridge
PLH Cup Final 2021/22 Season
Takes place at Wellington on June 12th
The 2021-22 PLH Cup competition reaches its conclusion on Sunday 12th June 2022 at Wellington. In this year’s final the Oratory will play Seacourt to determine who will lift the coveted trophy.
The recent semi-finals saw Oratory defeat an all-girls Wellington team 4-2 and Seacourt defeat Queens 3-3 (on countback).
This competition is sponsored by The Dedanists’ Foundation and runs on a handicap basis designed predominantly for youngsters aged 12 -15 with handicaps 60 - 90. This inter-club junior team competition is aimed at giving juniors who are relatively new to the game a chance to take part in team matches and meet their junior counterparts from other clubs.
Do please come along and watch the final if you can and see a great example of the work that is being done by the Dedanists’ Foundation.
The girls from Wellington take on the Oratory in one of the recent semi-finals
British U18 Handicap Singles 2021
Sponsored by The Dedanists’ Foundation
There was an excellent entry of 21 juniors for this year’s Handicap Singles event held at the Wellington court over the weekend of 18th/19th December. The 12 youngsters with the highest handicaps played on Saturday in the “B” competition. For many of them, it was their first taste of tournament play and there were many close-fought matches.
In the end, it came down to a final between two young players from Wellington, Lila Hue-Williams and Seb Edwards. The match was initially close before Seb took charge and went on to win 8-3 and take the “B” prize.
The main competition took place on Sunday with players from many clubs taking part. The highlight of the group stages was 10 year old Max Warner’s come back from 7-2 down to win 8-7 in a match he had to win to qualify for the semi-finals. Max (Queens) was joined in the semi-finals by Tanish Mehta, Francesca Sweet, and Willem Sweet all from Wellington. Max qualified through to the final to play last year’s winner Francesca. The final produced yet another comeback from young Max who came back from 6-3 down to win the match and the tournament 8-6.
Prizes were presented by Paul Weaver (Director of Junior Tennis UK and Dedanists' Foundation Ambassador). He took the opportunity to thank The Dedanists' Foundation for their sponsorship of the event and for all the other good work that the Foundation does for Junior Tennis.
“B” Grade Seb Edwards bt Lila Hue-Williams 8-3
“A” Grade Max Warner bt Francesca Sweet 8-6
The Jesters Club
The Dedanists’ Foundation is delighted to announce that they are now working on some joint projects with the Jesters Club. These projects focus on encouraging youngsters to play real tennis in clubs around the UK. The Jesters Club has over 3000 members worldwide and is dedicated in large part to the organisation and promotion of racket sports throughout the world and to the encouragement of the games at their sporting best.
As a result of this cooperation the Dedanists’ Foundation and the Jesters Club will be jointly funding initiatives at Oratory, Bristol, Moreton, Canford, and Cambridge Real Tennis clubs. On all of these initiatives we will be working together the Jesters to achieve our joint aim which is to increase junior participation in Real Tennis on an open access basis.
A great half-term for Junior Tennis!
During the recent October school half-term break, the Dedanists' Foundation coordinated a major campaign to introduce a new batch of junior players into clubs to experience Real Tennis for the first time. Encouragingly most of the clubs involved were courts that had previously had little or no junior activity.
Bristol Real Tennis Club
Chris Ronaldson and Maggie Henderson-Tew are on a 6-month secondment to revive the fortunes of the Bristol club. One of their priorities was to create an active new junior section. To help achieve this they turned to the Dedanists' Foundation for help and guidance. With considerable funding from the Foundation and marketing advice from our Ambassador Paul Weaver and Tory Wall, they set up a series of very successful Junior Open Days over a 3 week period.
An amazing total of 42 new junior players, (including 17 girls) aged from 5-14 attended these events and all of those who played have signed up for follow-up sessions at the club. 13 of the watching parents have also signed up for taster sessions and may well end up as new club members.
All in all a great initiative for junior tennis and for the Bristol club in general.
With financial and moral support from the Dedanists' Foundation, the Moreton club organised its first Junior Open Day on 23rd October. 250 flyers were designed by Tory wall and printed by the Foundation to help them advertise the event. These flyers were sent to local schools and posted on social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
As a result, 7 youngsters were recruited who had never been on a Real Tennis court before. They all had an enjoyable couple of hours and 5 signed up to take part in a 6-week ongoing program of lessons,
The first of these follow-up sessions took place successfully on November 6th.
A great start to Moreton Morrell's junior recruitment drive!
Success for Junior Open Day at the Oratory
The Dedanists’ Foundation were delighted to sponsor a Junior Open Day at the Oratory Real Tennis Club on Saturday 30 October. The Foundation contributes £1500 per year towards an enhanced remuneration package for assistant professional Levi Gale and this has enabled him to stay in the game and given him the opportunity to create this initiative at the club.
The Dedanists’ Foundation designed and printed marketing material to promote this event and Levi and Claire worked hard to get juniors from local state schools to come along and try out the game for the very first time. On the day 14 youngsters attended, ranging in age from 7-13. On-court coaching was provided by Claire Fahey for a total of 3 hours.
Everyone very much enjoyed the experience and Claire has signed up 9 of these juniors for some follow-up sessions over the next 6 weeks. Plans are also underway to hold another Junior Open Day in the new year.
Well done the Oratory!
Train the Trainer Workshop July 2021
On the 31st July, three of Moreton Morrell's most influential members attended a Dedanists' Foundation "Train the Trainer" course at Wellington with Paul Weaver and Dan Jones. David Phillips, Tony Branfield, and new chairman Simon Hobson came along to get a masterclass on how to attract new junior members to their club.
Another important aspect of the day was learning how to keep the enthusiasm of the new juniors going with a combination of on-court learning and fun which is quite different from conventional adult coaching. They intend to come back to us within a few weeks with a plan based around a junior open day at Moreton, probably in September. The Dedanists' Foundation will support the Junior Day with funding and marketing materials.
A couple of weeks earlier, Dedanists' Foundation ambassador, Paul Weaver had joined other members of the GB over 60's team for a few hours of tennis at the Moreton Morrell club. Apart from the pleasure of getting back together, it was wonderful to experience playing on the club's brand new floor. Obviously, the way that the floor plays is the most important thing but initially, it is the beauty of the surface that impresses most. A classic Bickley colour with marble-like swirls embedded in the surface gave the impression that it had been there for decades! And the icing on the cake was that it played beautifully too!
For the full story and a series of short videos on its construction visit mmtcc.org.
Dedanists’ Foundation Junior becomes an IIP Apprentice Professional
18-year-old Alex Machin has become the second young player to join the new IIP Apprentice Professional Scheme.
As part of The Dedanists’ Foundation plan to reach out to potential new players in state schools, Dan Jones visited Edgebarrow School in Crowthorne, Berks. Dan offered four juniors a chance to try out real tennis at The Wellington Club with the cost of coaching and courts covered by The Foundation.
Alex, who was 15 years old at the time, was one of that group and took to the game of real tennis immediately. Further sponsored coaching followed which has now led to his successful application to become an apprentice real tennis professional under the IIP Scheme. He will take up his new position on the 25th August at the Wellington club and is determined to continue the process that introduced him to the game.
British Junior Handicap Singles Championships 2020
The first National tournament to be held since the re-opening of real tennis courts took place at Wellington on Saturday 5th June 2021.
The British Junior Handicap Singles event for 2020 was completed at last! The competition was sponsored by The Dedanists’ Foundation as part of our program to promote increased junior participation in real tennis.
4 preliminary round-robin groups provided the 4 semi-finalists, Charlie Enticknap, Cesca Sweet and Willem Sweet from Wellington plus Bertie Vallat from the Queens Club. Two great semi-finals resulted in the first ever final featuring twin brother v twin sister, Cesca & Willem Sweet.
In the final, some very hard hitting from Willem did not phase Cesca who gave as good as she got! Her sheer athleticism, along with a decent handicap advantage saw her through to an 8-2 win. It was a very watchable match fuelled with the added ingredient of sibling rivalry but all played in an excellent spirit.
The trophy was presented by tournament organiser, Paul Weaver thanked the Dedanist’ Foundation for their support and noted that Cesca was the first girl to win the coveted trophy in its’ 25 year history!
Semi-Finals Willem Sweet bt Charlie Enticknap 6-4 Cesca Sweet bt Bertie Vallat 6-1
Final Cesca Sweet bt Willem Sweet 8-2
Early success for The Dedanists' Foundation initiatives at Jesmond
At the beginning of 2020, Mark Eadle took over as Head Pro at the Jesmond Club with his son Zak Eadle as assistant. We were determined to seize the opportunity presented by this "new start" at the club by supporting the new pros in any we could to help increase the level of junior participation at Jesmond.
Initially, we agreed to provide the club with a grant of £1500 to help them develop a strong junior section. We then joined forces with The Dedanists' Society and the T&RA to provide a £5000 grant to Zak Eadle to ensure that he stayed in the professional game during the long Covid shutdown.
We are now pleased to report that considerable progress has already been made. Local state school Whitley Bay High School has signed up and included Real Tennis as a topic in their "A Level" PE Course. Also, Mark tells us that he has already received positive feedback from teachers at other schools in the area to his social media posts about the Whitley Bay High School project.
" Whitley Bay High School have had a great day learning about Real Tennis. This is a topic we teach as part of our A Level PE course and it was great to give our students an opportunity to play the sport themselves.The game is very technical, so it was great to have such fantastic coaching from Mark and Zak. Jesmond Real Tennis Club were very welcoming during our visit and we have all left with big smiles on our faces! Thank you!
PE Teacher - Whitley Bay High School "
U18 British Handicap Singles - Sponsored by The Dedanists' Foundation held at Wellington 19th/20th December 2020
This year’s tournament was held at the Wellington court and was interrupted mid-way by the sudden change in the Covid tier structure, with Wellington going into Tier 4. As a result only the “B” competition was completed with the “A” event to take place as soon as possible in the new year.
This year the entry was capped at 24 juniors to make it easier to comply with the Tier 3 Covid regulations. The 12 youngsters with the highest handicaps played on the Saturday in the “B” competition. For many of them it was their first taste of tournament play and there were many close fought matches.
In the end it came down to a final between two young players from Wellington, Tanish Mehta and Poppy Hinds. The match was all square at 3-3 all before Tanish took charge and went on to win 6-3 to win the “B” title. Many thanks go out to Wellington for holding the event in these most difficult of circumstances and to The Dedanists’ Foundation ofcourse for their continued support and sponsorship.
Train the Trainer Day held at Wellington
18th December 2020
In the final day before the new Covid restrictions came into force, Dan Jones and Paul Weaver delivered a one-day intensive “Train the Trainer” course at the Wellington court.
The recipient of the course was Levi Gale who is currently based at The Oratory. Levi is receiving financial support for an 18 month period from a group of sponsors, The Dedanists’ Foundation, The Dedanists Society and the T&RA.
It was agreed by all funding partners that Levi would benefit from attending this course and that it was also a basic requirement for all new young professionals who are funded in this way. Paul & Dan have been developing junior talent at Seacourt and Wellington over many years. In conjunction with the Dedanists Foundation who sponsor the course, they have designed this one-day session to create a structure for recruiting young players into the game and retaining their enthusiasm by allowing them to learn and enjoy our wonderful game.
Levi will now take this knowledge back to the Oratory and work on the creation of a strong new junior section at his club and his progress will be reviewed by Paul on a 3 monthly basis.
Peter Luck-Hille Cup 2020
Semi-Finals and Final completed - Just in time!
On Sunday 13th December the 2 semi-finals and the Final of the 2020 PLH Cup were played at Wellington. In the first Semi-Final RTC took on Petworth. It went down to the last match after Toby Barton defeated Oli Hampson-Evans 8/7 for Petworth and Henry Weekes levelled it up by beating Will Fountain 8/4.. Fin Hanley won the deciding match beating Barnaby Lawford 8/2.
The second semi-final resulted in a 3/0 win for Seacourt over Oxford, sounds like a convincing win but all 3 matches went down to the wire with Seacourt winning them all 8/7!
The final, RTC vs Seacourt, was another great match. It kicked off with Evie Tambling (Seacourt) beating Oli Hampson-Evans 8/6 then Liam Ireson closed out his match against Henry Weekes 8/3 in a match that was a lot closer than the score suggests! Fin Handley pulled a match back for RTC by beating James Walker to make it 2/1 overall but it was Seacourt who lifted the trophy!
This competition, is sponsored by The Dedanists’ Foundation and run on a handicap basis designed predominantly for youngsters aged 12 -15 with handicaps 60 - 90. This inter-club junior team competition is aimed at giving juniors who are relatively new to the game a chance to take part in team matches and meet their junior counterparts from other clubs.
Dedanists’ Foundation Honours Board installed at The Queen’s Club
The names of all our Diamond and Founder Patrons appear on the new Dedanists’ Foundation Honours Board, which has been erected at The Queen’s Club. It has taken pride of place on the West Court dedans wall. Our sincere thanks go out to all Patrons without whom we would not be able to carry out the important work we do for junior Real Tennis.Thanks also to Ros Niland, Gary Neal and Simon Mansfield from The Queen’s Club.
The Hyde Club
The Dedanists’ Foundation has awarded The Hyde Real Tennis Club a £500 cash grant for recruiting and coaching juniors. Many of these juniors will be state school pupils. This grant money may be used for almost anything that would help to recruit and coach more juniors. The DF wants the club to be properly paid for the work that is done by Stephen Grier who coaching juniors at the club. Our objective is that he should be able to develop and maintain a thriving and self-perpetuating junior club with up to 20 or so members and a strong sense of identity. We hope and expect to increase our grant funding over future years to help you to achieve this.
The Dedanists’ Foundation has also donated £5000 to the Hyde Real Tennis Club’s fund for purchasing the court from their landlord, the West Dorset Sports Trust. Our position is “No court – No junior tennis!”. The club’s purchase of the court secures its long term future and therefore it’s long term capacity to recruit new young players from the local community, especially state schools. The successful purchase was completed in September 2020.
Investing In Professionals
The Dedanists’ Foundation has agreed to make a £4000 grant towards the funding of the IiP programme. This programme offers new trainees and existing young professionals a highly professional educational environment in order to develop a meaningful career in Real Tennis. In tandem with court training and court-related skills, the programme offers learning and training in the business skills relevant to becoming an accredited Real Tennis professional or to manage a sports facility. Emphasising the inclusive objectives of IiP it encourages all new trainees to join the programme as Apprentices. Access to the programme can be made through a number of entry paths depending on the age and training already undertaken by the individual trainee. Existing trainee professionals are also encouraged to join the programme to in-fill any skills they require to achieve accreditation.
Support for Young Professionals
The Dedanists’ Foundation has agreed to commit to a one-year package of financial support for the Oratory and Jesmond Dene Real Tennis clubs. We have awarded £1500 to each club to enhance the remuneration package of their young professionals and for the development of their junior Real Tennis sections. This will be done in partnership with the T&RA and The Dedanists’ Society
Professional Apprentice & Training Initiatives
Our game needs to recruit more young players to become real tennis professionals. The Dedanists’ Foundation, together with the Dedanists’ Society and the T&RA, is working with two clubs on new initiatives to meet this challenge.
At Cambridge, three school leavers are doing a six month, gap year apprenticeship to give them direct experience of the work of a real tennis professional and to encourage them to choose this as a career. They have attended the one day, train-the-trainer workshop on how to recruit and retain juniors that is run by Dan Jones and Paul Weaver at Wellington. They have worked for a week at Seacourt to experience how other clubs operate.
At Middlesex, a recent graduate, Josh King, is working part time as a trainee professional on the basis that the club professionals provide the training and the Dedanists’ Foundation, together with the Society and the T&RA, provide Josh with sufficient income.
We hope that these initiatives will provide a blueprint for other clubs to follow.
GAP Year Apprentices working at Seacourt
The Dedanists' Foundation together with the Dedanists Society and the T&RA are supporting an important new initiative taking place at the Cambridge club. The objective is to support 2 youngsters whilst they are given a 6 month insight into life as a Real Tennis professional with a view to them choosing this as a career. Currently the game is suffering a shortfall in the number of young players seeking to become professionals. It is hoped that if this initiative is successful it could become a blueprint for similar schemes at other clubs.
The 2 youngsters taking part in the scheme are Jim Ludekens and Andrew Barker. As part of the scheme and to widen their knowledge about Real Tennis clubs they have just spent a week at Seacourt where they worked alongside top professional Andrew Lyons.
Their week at Seacourt gave them an insight into how another club is run and gave them plenty of opportunity to see the Seacourt approach to coaching junior players. Seacourt were running their usual half term Sports Club which includes Lawn Tennis, Padel, Badminton and Squash as well as Real Tennis. As part of their workload, Jim & Andrew joined in with the management of this club which is open to all youngsters living on Hayling Island.
They both enjoyed their Seacourt experience and felt that they had learned many things that would be useful in possible future careers as a Real Tennis professional.
The British U18 Junior Handicap Tournament 2019
Sponsored by The Dedanists' Foundation
The National U18 Handicap Singles Tournament took place at Wellington College over the weekend of 14th/15th December and was sponsored by The Dedanists’ Foundation. There was a very large entry this year including 8 girls and as a result, the very early rounds had to take place on Friday evening. There were large contingents from Wellington and Seacourt but many other clubs were also represented.
The “B” grade event for players with a handicap of over 75 included some excellent matches which resulted in a final between Henry Weekes (RTC) and Fergus Thomson (Wellington). A very close match ended with a win for Henry 6/5.
The “A” Grade for the lower handicap players was just as close. There were many great performances but special mention goes to Max Trueman (Seacourt) who overcame huge handicaps to notch up 3 wins. However, the 4 juniors that progressed to the semi-finals were Alex Machin (Wellington), Toby Barton (Wellington), Ross Morrison (RTC) and Hugo Pennant (Wellington).
Comfortable wins for Toby and Hugo saw them through to a thrilling final. In a one set, first to eight match, Hugo got to 7-5 up before Toby clawed his way back to win 8-7. The trophy was presented by Paul Weaver who is a Dedanists’ Foundation Ambassador and T&RA Director of Junior Tennis.
The Dedanists’ Foundation were delighted with the number of entries and particularly by the high proportion of girls playing. Dan Jones & Adam Player marked superbly throughout and the event was well attended by parents and supporters of the young players.
Gap Year Assistant Professionals Initiative
The Dedanists' Foundation together with the Dedanists Society and the T&RA are supporting an important new initiative taking place at the Cambridge club. The objective is to support 3 youngsters whilst they are given a 6 month insight into life as a Real Tennis professional with a view to them choosing this as a career. Currently the game is suffering a shortfall in the number of young players seeking to become professionals. It is hoped that if this initiative is successful it could become a blueprint for similar schemes at other clubs. After their first six weeks we have received the following report from Cambridge on their progress so far.
Three 18-year-old gap year assistant professionals (GYAPs) started working at Cambridge University Real Tennis Club on 17 September 2019, and will continue until mid-March 2020. Jim Ludekens and Andrew Barker have come through the Club's junior program and were starting to show signs of serious improvement in their understanding of the game as they finished their formal education. Zara Tweed comes to the sport with a strong background in several ball sports, including Eton Fives and showed a lot of promise and skill during her initial session on court with Kees.
All three GYAPs have demonstrated excellent professional skills: they are punctual, presentable and have really transformed the atmosphere in the Club. This program has given them the opportunity to spend 15 hours a week at the Club, learning the basics of the trade: ball making, racket stringing, some admin duties, as well as the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time on court, either hitting with members, learning to coach or practicing their own game. Kees uses the junior and student sessions to teach them coaching techniques and the juniors, in particular, have responded very well to this extra dimension.
In addition, the GYAPs have each taken on a specific duty: Andrew is organising the Cambridge team in the East Anglia pennant, Zara has instigated a weekly 70+ doubles group and Jim is leading the initiative to ensure all hitting partner slots are booked. He is also taking many of the sessions himself. The three GYAPS take turns to mark the handicap doubles league on a Friday evening and feedback has been excellent. They have successfully managed some very disparate handicaps.
The GYAPs have recently benefitted from a session with Rob Fahey at Prested. Rob talked to them about off-court preparation: diet and exercise, as well as an on-court session which really motivated the boys (unfortunately Zara was not able to attend due to other work commitments). We hope to repeat this later in their placement, as well as trips to Wellington and Seacourt to gain a wider understanding of the sport. Meanwhile, in Cambridge, Kees coaches them on court and Peter and Kees both teach them off-court duties. They have also had several sessions with Duncan Colquhoun, working on the finer points of their game.
The program has started very successfully and we look forward to seeing the GYAPs progress over the next few months. I can't imagine the Club without them. Sincere thanks to The Dedanists' Foundation, The Dedanists Society and the T&RA for supporting this initiative.
Zara, Jim, Kees and Andrew
The PLH Cup Competition 2019/2020
This tournament is sponsored by The Dedanists’ Foundation. It is part of the Foundation’s programme for encouraging and helping clubs to recruit more schools and youngsters into the game.
It is a junior inter-club competition run on a handicap basis designed to include predominantly youngsters aged 12-15 with handicaps ranging from 60-90.
The Charity, with the assistance of our Ambassador Paul Weaver and Director Josh Farrall, successfully ran the sixth Peter Luck-Hille Cup in 2018/19. This inter-club junior team competition is aimed at giving juniors who may be below the elite level a chance to take part in team matches and meet similar juniors from other clubs. The 2019/20 tournament is now underway and for the first time it has been arranged on a knockout basis with a record entry of 10 clubs now taking part. The competition has reached semi-final stage but is currently on hold due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The final has been re-arranged to take place on September 12th.
At Wellington on September 12th 2020
The British Junior Singles Championships
The Queens Club August 16th-18th 2019
This year for the first time The Dedanists’ Foundation provided some sponsorship to the flagship event of the junior real tennis calendar. A large number of youngsters from many different clubs around the country competed over 3 days in the top junior event of the year. The finals were all held on Sunday 18th in front of a large and knowledgeable crowd of parents and supporters.
The U12 section saw the best final ever played at this level! 8 year old Max Warner (Queens) defeated George Jameson 8/7 in an absolute thriller to become the youngest ever winner of the under 12 title. The U14 final was won by Bertie Vallat (Queens) who defeated Henry Henman (Radley) 6/3 6/2. The U16 final was an all Seacourt affair with James Medlow defeating Max Trueman 6/3 6/3.
The U18 section was dominated by William Flynn in the group stages but in the Final he struggled to maintain his superiority. Unexpectedly William dropped the first set 6/2 to Patrick Smart (Queens) but he then recovered well to win 2/6 6/1 6/0.
The Nat Duncan Trophy and Racket was presented to Henry Henman for outstanding sportsmanship.
Every player that entered received a superb commemorative tennis shirt provided free of charge by the Foundation.
Queen's Club, Sunday 18th August 2019
Under 18 William Flynn (Seacourt) bt Patrick Smart (Queens) 2/6 6/1 6/0
Under 16 James Medlow (Seacourt) bt Max Trueman (Seacourt) 6/3 6/3
Under 14 Bertie Vallat (Queens) bt Henry Henman (Radley) 6/3 6/2
Under 12 Max Warner (Queens) bt George Jameson (Seacourt) 8/7
Girls Plate Finals
Queen's Club, Friday 17th August 2018
Under 14 Final Katie Walker (Seacourt bt Eloise Flynn (Seacourt) 6/2