Aitkin, Wills shocked to net tennis honours
TENNIS in Gloucestershire celebrated a double success at the 2011 Lawn Tennis Association awards.
Oxstalls Indoor Tennis Centre was awarded the prestigious Club of the Year prize, while Nigel Wills, chairman of Frampton-on-Severn Tennis Club, claimed the LTA Volunteer of the Year award for the Midlands.
Both winners were presented with their prizes by the Duchess of Gloucester, and enjoyed a trip to the ATP World Tour Finals in London's O2 Arena.
Oxtalls has six indoor and four outdoor courts and is Beacon, Clubmark and Satellite accredited – recognising the high quality of tennis on offer.
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Five community sites have been identified around Gloucester which general manager Gordon Aitkin and his team are promoting through allplay, the LTA's national campaign to help more people play tennis.
They also run primary and secondary teacher training and their Primary School Programme reaches 34 schools and three partner clubs.
Aitkin was quick to heap praise on his Tennis Development Team for making the award possible.
"It's been a team effort from start to finish," Aitkin said.
"The award was completely unexpected and a wonderful achievement for the club.
"It's never been an accolade we've set our sights on, we just wanted to improve year on year.
"We do everything we can to get kids into the club to ensure we can be an inclusive tennis centre.
Wills has been the driving force behind the expansion of Frampton since the club's inception in 2006, culminating in the Clubmark status they received in January.
His dream of turning a field into a thriving tennis club became a reality five years ago when planning and funding was agreed for three floodlit courts to be built.
Wills explained that a combination of surprise and delight accompanied his success.
"To be honest, I wasn't aware the award existed but I'm delighted," he said.
"It must have been difficult to choose, as there were plenty of inspirational people involved.
"I'm relatively surprised that it was me who won.
"Considering I had no experience of running a club prior to this I'm pleased with how it's gone.
"But my team and I will continue to expand the club.
"We were put up in a hospitality suite at the O2 and it was a great day.
"To get so close to Nadal practising was another experience completely to watching him either from the stands or on TV."