As viewers were treated to a spectacular Wimbeldon final on Sunday, a husband and wife team from Coleraine are dreaming of making the sport of tennis accessible to everyone in the area.
Paul Logan and his wife Tracy are both qualified tennis coaches.
Having grown up on the Millburn Road, Paul admitted that the Rose Gardens was his playground as a youngster.
As one of the area’s best known tennis players, Paul is currently a county player and a member of Coleraine Tennis Club.
In a special feature for Times Sport, the pair explain how they are hoping to take away the elite stigma of the sport, and get tennis into the community, making it accessible to everyone.
“As a youngster growing up I was always hanging around the tennis courts,” admitted Paul, a former post man.
“I wasn’t allowed to join the tennis club until I was a bit older. But, I worked my way up through the club ranks as a junior.
“In 2008, just after my twin boys were born, I decided to take my tennis coaching qualifications, and after that I set up my own coaching school - Paul Logan Tennis Coaching.
“Tennis is so often seen as a sport for people with money, but we are hoping to change that.
“It’s not about how well you can play, it’s about getting kids involved in the sport and keeping them there.
“Judy Murray, Andy Murray’s mother is a advocate of this. Just this week she has set up an academy for girls to get them interested in the sport. I have seen how children can change - sport can change children, making them fitter and encourages good behaviour.”
Paul and Tracy coach hundreds of young people every week through their tennis schools.
And believe it or not - the pair coach children as young as two allowing them t get their tiny hands on a tennis racket for the first time, learning valuable coordination skills, whilst having fun and interacting with others.
Tracy explained: “As a qualified coach for under 10’s it’s lovely to see the little kids coming in and progressing through the age groups. They may not become the next big tennis stars, but they are having fun and being active, and that’s all that really matters.”
The pair weren’t happy with just introducing kids to the sport - they also teach adult groups. Thanks to funding from the Coleraine Education Partnership parents and even grandparents have also been getting a taster on the courts.
Funding from the Causeway Community Engagement Programme (CCEP) saw Paul leading a cross community programme in Garvagh, at the start of the year, bringing children from Kilrea and Garvagh together to play tennis. Paul has also been involved in coaching tennis to local children with disabilities - proof that tennis really is accessable to everyone.
The pair who have three children, twins Jake and Riley (6) and Mia (3) believe that the sport of tennis is one of the very few were the whole family can come together to play. And, a revamp at the Rose Gardens in Coleraine by Coleraine Borough Council is encouraging more people in the Borough to take advantage of the new hard courts. “This summer we have gained funding for family tennis sessions - ‘Kickstart’ sessions,” explained Paul. “They mean that mum and dad can come down and learn a few skills whilst the children get coaching, and by the end hopefully they will all be on the court together.”
For more details visit Paul’s website or the facebook page, or call Paul on 07845316855.