Coach: We’re ready to make net gains

ROYSTON Tennis Club is on the up, says head coach Matt Fellingham. On the back of a successful summer campaign, in which the club won a number of individual and team trophies, Fellingham believes the future is bright. The head coach of three years said:

ROYSTON Tennis Club is on the up, says head coach Matt Fellingham.

On the back of a successful summer campaign, in which the club won a number of individual and team trophies, Fellingham believes the future is bright.

The head coach of three years said: "Since I've been here I've seen a lot of growth.

"You can tell how far the club has come just by looking at our junior teams.

"Three years ago we had no juniors. Now we have more than 40.

"They're a talented bunch too, and as a coach I like nothing more than seeing youngsters develop. And for a relatively small local club - it's essential."

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With 106 members - a figure that has risen by 20 per cent since 2004 - the club is now competing with its bigger Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire rivals.

Fellingham said: "We're attracting a lot more players these days, when before, people in the area went to larger clubs, such as Letchworth.

"I think our results over the last 12 months reflect how far we have come, and this season has been fantastic."

The mixed doubles team won their summer league in style, with Fellingham, Christine Knight, Kathy Betts, and Andy Holmes remaining unbeaten throughout.

Eleven-year-old Miles Arnold also added more silverware by winning the Bury & West Suffolk Under-12 Boys Open Singles Championship.

Fellingham said: "The mixed team had a very good year, and hopefully we can continue that impressive form.

"And as for Miles, he has great potential and is already giving our senior players a run for their money!"

Such youth development is particularly important to Royston, with the club having forged links with schools Meridian, Tannery Drift, St Mary's, and Roman Way.

Ladies captain Christine Knight said: "It's vital that the club has a good relationship with the schools.

"We want to be helping produce future Andy Murrays, as well as raising the profile of tennis with the town's young people.

"I've been part of the club for the last eight years, and I've never known it to be in such a great position.

"The standard has risen and the teams are going from strength to strength, and that ranges from the five-year-olds playing mini tennis right up to the senior players.

"The whole standard of the club has improved, and we've gone from an average club to a very competitive one.

"The change has been phenomenal, and Matt has been instrumental in that."

Fellingham has also introduced a top-of-the-range computer analysis system that monitors his players' progress and development.

The system, which is called Motion Expert allows the 22-year-old to study the players' techniques and make improvements where necessary.

He said: "It's a very high tech system and Royston is one of the few clubs in the county to have it.

"It's been really well received and makes my life as a coach much easier, and already I am seeing the benefits."

The programme also allows Fellingham to call up every professional player on the circuit with Royston's players able to compare their own techniques with the best in the business.

He said: "Tennis is a fast game and the system lets me slow it and break it down.

"The youngsters' favourites are always Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and it's great to be able to show them how the best in the world play.

"It also records the speeds of our players' serves.

"At the moment Mark Griffiths is the fastest senior with a serve of 127mph, while Miles is the fastest junior with a serve of 100mph.

"It's a feature that generates a lot of healthy competition!"

However, with the winter season starting next month, and the evenings getting darker, both Fellingham and Knight believe the next step in the club's progress lies with the introduction of indoor and floodlit courts.

Knight said: "We are based at Meridian School, which has brilliant facilities, but unfortunately no floodlights.

"If we are to continue our growth we need to extend our winter programme, and with that we need to have floodlights.

"It is something we will definitely be looking at."

Fellingham said: "There is a real lack of tennis facilities.

"And that's not just here but right across the country.

"In Royston there are only two public courts - one in Studlands Rise and the other near the town centre, which is not good enough."

And because of the lack of facilities, Royston will have to relocate to Melbourn for the winter season.

Knight said: "We have a good relationship with Melbourn, but ideally we would love to be based in Royston - that's where the club belongs.

"Before, it hasn't been too much of a problem, but now we desperately need to expand.

"It's certainly a good time to be part of the club, and the committee is looking to apply for the LTA Clubmark Accreditation for the first time.

"Everyone talks about the town's other sports clubs, with the tennis going unnoticed.

"But hopefully our recent achievements will get people talking!

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