A TOP tennis coach is encouraging people to carry on playing the game after Wimbledon has been and gone for another year.
As usual at this time of year, hundreds of sporty residents across Hartlepool are dusting down their racquets and turning into Roger Federer or Serena Williams for a fortnight.
While the top stars are vying for a Grand Slam triumph in SW19, Eldon Grove Tennis Club is seeing a huge increase in the number of people keen to try out their own skills.
The club offers a pay-as-you-play deal which gives budding Andy Murrays the chance to step out on to the court and try their hand at the game.
Tony Evans, Clubmark administrator for the club, said: “We always see an increase in the amount of people playing tennis at this time of year.
“We get a lot more people coming to the club to play, but when I’m driving along Catcote Road you see it there as well.”
With Wimbledon getting hours of television coverage at the moment, the club have taken it upon itself to offer people the chance of a game when they host their own open day this weekend.
And for a club which prides itself on offering its services to the community, members and coaches are hoping people get a taste for the game and stick at it.
“For us it’s all about getting as many people involved with the game as possible,” added Tony, 62, a dad-of-two who lives in Weldeck Gardens, in Hartlepool, with wife Kath.
“About 15 years ago this club had 10 members, now we have 50 adult members and 70 juniors, it’s fantastic.
“We are growing as a club all of the time and the Wimbledon fortnight does tend to help with that.”
The club added another string to its bow last year when it got permission to add four extra courts on the opposite side of the road in Eldon Grove.
It gives them even more opportunity to invite people for a game and to enhance the credentials of their talented youngsters.
And despite Britain’s barren run in Grand Slam competitions, Tony says the pathways are in place for youngsters to develop their game.
The retired computer manager at Camerons Brewery, in Hartlepool, added: “We have children coming and taking part from as young as five years old.
“We have had a number of extremely talented youngsters over the years and we do our best to take them as far as possible.
“A lot of those youngsters have gone on to play at high performance centres.
“If they have got the talent then the pathway is there for youngsters in tennis.”
Anyone wanting to try their hand at the game is invited along to the Eldon Grove Tennis Club open day this Sunday from 10am-1pm.
All ages and abilities are welcome and the event is free of charge. Club racquets and balls are also available for use.