Tennis awards honour those who have given most in South Wales

The annual Tennis Wales awards have recognised the people and organisations in South Wales that have contributed most to the sport during the past year.

The winners include players, volunteers, coaches, clubs and centres, as well as local authorities.

The awards were presented by Professor Laura McAllister, chair of Sport Wales, in a ceremony hosted by TV presenter Arfon Haines Davies, at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on Saturday night (October 6).

“The awards recognise our most talented people, but also reward those who make it possible for thousands to enjoy tennis in Wales every week,” said Tennis Wales chief executive Peter Drew.

“Over the past 12 months we have continued to increase our membership to over 14,000 players across Wales,” he added. “We also have hundreds of coaches and volunteers who make tennis accessible at the heart of our communities.”

Award winners from South Wales were:

Performance Coach of the Year - Chris Lewis (Virgin Cardiff)

Chris works with junior players of county and regional standard, aged 12-18 in his role with Virgin Active, and is currently working with Wales men’s number 1, Josh Milton.

As Men’s National Junior Travelling Coach, Chris supports the head of Men’s Junior Tennis to execute an international tournament schedule for the top junior players in Britain. The role has involved staffing national training camps, travelling with GB teams to U14 & U16 Tennis Europe events as well as captaining the U14 GB Summer Cup Team in 2007 and 2011.

In the past year Chris has captained LTA trips to Slovenia and Germany and has worked as travelling coach for Johanna Konta, whose WTA ranking has come down from 310 to 205, and number 6 in GB.

Development Coach of the Year - Mark Thomas (Swansea Tennis Centre)

Mark is responsible for the management, implementation and continuous development of Swansea Tennis Centre’s coaching programme and has been a driving force behind the increase in numbers from 70 to an average of 300. 

He has also been instrumental in the management and implementation of the Tennis in the Community campaign, which has seen Swansea Tennis Centre take its coaching programme across the city. Mark has mentored operational and junior coaching staff, and is also responsible for creating a unique bond between tennis centre staff and coaches.

Mark has inspired the further development of the tennis centre programme by creating different grades and levels within the programme, entrusting other staff to implement mini tour events, tennis clinics and other tennis related activities.

Club/Centre of the Year - Cardiff (Castle) LTC

In another successful year, the club has adopted the slogan ‘Learn, Play, Compete and Enjoy’. Under head coach John Williams the club has increased its British Tennis membership by 150, and its coaching workforce from two to five. The club runs an excellent squad system for children of all ages with an emphasis on development for matchplay. It now hosts its own Grade 3 event, with 240 entrants this year, and hosted the Junior Welsh Championships for the second successive year.

The club has also worked very closely with the Cardiff Stars club for adults and children with a learning disability, raising significant funds to support this charity. The club has 36 teams competing in all competitions, and 10 of these teams have either won promotion or indeed landed the Premier League title this year.

Team of the Year - South Wales Men’s County Team

The South Wales Men’s Team was promoted to group 1 for the first time in 10 years, enjoying good wins against the North of Scotland, Yorkshire and Suffolk. A must-win match on the penultimate day of the event against Hampshire saw South Wales go 4-2 down after the second round of matches, but they pulled together to win all three matches in the last round to secure promotion.

Wales number 1 Josh Milton served out the final match at 6-5 up in the third set to gain promotion. Jordan Helyer also performed exceptionally well, winning all 15 matches.

Player of the Year - Evan Hoyt (Llanelli)

Evan won the player award for the second year running, after another very successful 12 months. Evan represented GB in the U18 European Championships this summer, was a quarter-finalist in the Grade 1 ITF event in Casablanca, and reached the Junior Wimbledon Boys Doubles semi-final in July.

He was semi-finalist in a Grade 2 ITF event in Prato, Italy earlier this summer, a finalist Grade 2 ITF in Villena, Spain and is currently number 70 in the world junior rankings.

Outstanding Achievement - Swansea365 team and the Swansea Tennis Centre led by Barry Cawte and Collette Richards

The centre, which was closed by the council in March 2011, was taken over by a trust group and now has over 1000 regular users. The number of people on a coaching programme has increased from 70 to over 600, most of them children, and there are over 100 players competing in 12 different competitions.

The club has opened up new markets through innovative tennis formats and activities with 15 sessions per week of Zumba and Cardio Tennis. The committed and innovative staff have transformed the centre and turned it around from making a substantial financial loss to now making a healthy profit.

The centre is now recognised by the LTA as setting the standard for tennis delivery in indoor centres across Britain. 

Winners from North and Mid Wales were: Volunteer of the Year - Paul Sinnadurai (South Powys); Young Volunteer – Emily Watson (Colwyn Bay); Local Authority – Powys; Outstanding Contribution to tennis in Wales - Chris Rudkin.

Information on all aspects of tennis in Wales is available from Tennis Wales at 029 20 463335 or


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