Abercorn Sports Club are up for two prizes when Tennis Scotland hold annual awards ceremony
The decision will be announced at a gala dinner in Stirling on Friday, March, 31. Abercorn’s Katie Hoch is up for Development Coach of the Year while the east Edinburgh club itself is shortlisted for Scottish Club of the Year in the face of competition from Cults and Giffnock.
Laura Stewart, the club president, says: “Our entry was based on great work the club and coaching team have been doing to break barriers that prevent girls and women participating in sport. We have developed our coaching programme … and some of the initiatives we ran to achieve success was partnering with the charity Audacious Women, run ladies only coaching from beginners to improvers, introduce Miss-Hits for girls aged 5-8 (and) continue to engage with local primary schools and other groups such as brownies and guides. This has resulted in female membership rising from 52 in 2019 to 95.”
Indeed, after struggling to field one women's team pre-pandemic Abercorn now have around 25 women competing for 12 places in their two teams.
East tennis is well represented elsewhere among the nominees. Competing against Katie Hoch will be Finn McLean, a full-time coach at Craiglockhart Tennis Centre and Joppa Tennis Club who also works to increase tennis participation in East Lothian by offering more local competitions for children. Dunfermline’s Alessia Palmieri is also listed in this category.
St Serfs Men’s first team are on the shortlist for Team of the Year after being undefeated in winning the VMH Solicitors East of Scotland Division One in 2022. The three-court club just off Ferry Road has also been recognised for cultivating a great social environment for members. Their rivals on the short-list are Prestwick Academy girls’ team.
On the shortlist for the Park Venue of the Year is the city centre’s Meadows club who host league games and deliver their junior and adult social coaching programmes with open days, tournaments and events to support new member growth and reduce court-hire costs. These initiatives saw over 23,000 players utilise the courts over the course of the year. Meadows go up against Rosewell, where, in 2021, the community took over the lease of the two courts which were refurbished and floodlit.
Luke Turnbull, a Tennis Scotland Development Apprentice, is up for the Rising Star award. Luke has competed for Great Britain’s Learning Disability Tennis team and is currently working towards obtaining his Level Two qualification while helping players of all ages and abilities reach new heights.
Luke’s North Berwick club host the annual East Lothian Open, shortlisted for Competition of the Year in recognition of outstanding organisation and delivery as well as creating a welcoming and enjoyable environment for players and spectators. The tournament comprises of almost 40 different events. The awards mark a year of growth in the sport with tennis memberships soaring to an all-time high of 75,000.
Blane Dodds, Tennis Scotland Chief Executive, said: “It has been a very successful year for tennis in Scotland with record membership numbers and events like the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup being hosted. With record entries across many competitions tennis is clearly thriving.”
To be announced on the night – Performance Coach, Official, University, Junior Player, Senior Veteran, Senior Player, International Player and Lifetime Achievement.
Meanwhile, VMH Solicitors has renewed its sponsorship of the 2023 East Leagues which will include a record 90 women’s teams plus 104 men’s and 147 youth teams.