Ingatestone & Fryerning Tennis Club
7 High St., Ingatestone, Essex, CM3 9ED
IFTC is a village-based tennis club in the heart of the local community. We’re relatively small compared with the larger Essex clubs, but have big aspirations!
The club has existed since at least 1955. In 1972, our three courts were laid behind the Community Centre in Ingatestone High Street.
Mention of tennis clubs makes some people think of words like ‘selective, private and aloof’ with lots of rules and everyone wearing white. This is far from the truth. IFTC aims to be open and inclusive and embrace diversity. We welcome all members of the community, whatever their age and standard of play, and is one of the ‘not-for-profit’ groups that make up the range of leisure activities available at the Community Centre. Our youngest member is 3 years old and our oldest just coming up to 69.
“Tennis is a great sport and a good way to get regular aerobic exercise. Our location in the heart of Ingatestone village provides a convenient, secure and safe environment for youngsters to learn and play and have fun” says club Chair, John Galvin. “We welcome guests to try the club a few times so they can decide whether they want to join.”
IFTC is a small club with around 100 members, fairly equally split between adults and juniors. There is a cosy clubhouse with a small kitchen and toilet and a veranda to sit and enjoy the afternoon sun with a ‘nice cup of tea’.
There is a lot on offer for members and non-members alike all year round. The Club’s popular coaching programme under Head Coach Nick Hilder is open to non-members, and Saturday morning sessions are ‘pay as you go’, so parents may bring their children along and let them try. We use mini-tennis nets and soft balls for younger groups and focus on fun, exercise and hand-to-eye co-ordination. There is a Tuesday mini-tennis group during School terms for tots and older children, and several holiday ‘camps’ every year with three-hour morning sessions and refreshments provided. The local Anglo-European school uses our courts for some 20 days a year in the summer, and we have close links with the village primary and junior schools.
There are Sunday morning ‘cardio-tennis’ classes, an annual Club knockout tournament and a range of men’s, women’s and mixed teams in local leagues. This year, for the first time ever, we entered an ‘under-8’ team in the LTA Aegon inter-club tournament, which demonstrated the enthusiasm being generated amongst our youngsters. We see this as a springboard to enter juniors from other age groups in the future.
For most adult players, it is social tennis at the weekends and on Tuesday evenings, and fun monthly American tournaments (where the quality of the cake is as important as the tennis) that provide the mainstay of the Club’s activities. And for 10 years now we have organised an annual “Pink” event for the benefit of “Wear It Pink” – the Breast Cancer Now charity.
To promote the social aspect of the Club we have occasional ‘curry nights’.
The Club is LTA-registered and operates through a Committee of volunteers.
How would this funding have an impact on your community?
We’re a relatively small club with limited resources when compared to the larger clubs in Essex. But we punch above our weight when it comes to the quality of our coaching programme and the enthusiasm for junior development.
Our kids are keen to progress and play more competitive matches within the club and against other local clubs in the county. This summer, our Under 8s mini-tennis team improved with every match in their first year of entering the Lawn Tennis Association's Aegon Team Tennis competition, ending the season with their first-ever win, and both they and those in our other junior age groups are hungry for more.
So our plan is that we would use the grant to provide some fab club t-shirts for the junior team members and indeed all of our juniors (some 50 in total). The t-shirts would have our club logo on and be personalised with the kids’ names, if required.
We feel that this initiative would help bring on our current team players and encourage new ones, plus attract new recruits such as siblings or school friends of our existing juniors.
In the 2011 Census the population of Ingatestone, Fryerning & Mountnessing was 5,966, of which 1,233 were aged 18 or under – so there is a sizeable target group out there.
Ingatestone is a growing town, with a number of new housing developments in the pipeline, so we see our plans for enhanced junior development programmes & competitive play as something to benefit not only our existing community but as an important local facility for future generations of Ingatestonians.
"“Really cool, and we’d be like a smarter club!” – Emily Sutton, junior member aged 9
“Would make you feel like a family and part of a team” – Aoife Whitfield, junior member aged 12"