MORE than 700 tennis fans turned out to see some of the world’s greatest players perform in Guernsey.
This year’s Guernsey Tennis Classic, sponsored by Investec Specialist Bank, saw former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash headline the field, which also included Jeremy Bates and Peter McNamara.
During the two-day event Mr Cash spent an hour coaching a group of children from Amherst Primary School. Investec has a charitable partnership with the school.
‘For us, it so great to be able to get on court with the kids, to be able to encourage them to pick up a racket and give tennis a go. But most of all to teach them that all of us pros here had a dream once, and if you try your best and work hard then sometimes dreams do come true,’ said Mr Cash.
Amherst Primary School headteacher Tracey Moore said: ‘we were thrilled when Investec offered us the opportunity for our children to be coached by Pat Cash. The opportunity certainly lived up to our expectations. Pat spent over an hour with our children developing their tennis skills. He was so good with the children and they all had the most amazing time.’
Nine-year-old Kody said, ‘It was fantastic – he signed a tennis ball for me.’
‘It was really good fun! He helped me with my volleys and serves,’ said Jessica, 9.
‘It was very exciting to meet a professional tennis player – I actually got to play with him,’ said Samuel, 10.
Local player Patrick Ogier teamed up with two-time Wimbledon doubles champion Peter McNamara to win a doubles match on Friday against Moroccan Younes El Aynoui and former British number one, Jeremy Bates.
Saturday’s match saw Moroccan Mr El Aynaoui beat former British number one Jeremy Bates 7-6, 3-6, 13-11 in a tight match.
In the final match of the day Mr Cash teamed up with Mr Ogier to lift the Guernsey Tennis Classic trophy.
Mr Ogier said: ‘it is such a great honour to play with these tennis legends – I don’t deserve to be on the same court with them so to have the chance is just incredible for me. The players are friendly and approachable and have been fantastic with all the kids here this weekend – hitting with them all and signing so many autographs. For me to win a doubles title with Pat Cash is something I never dreamed would happen.’
Peter McNamara said: ‘the Guernsey Tennis Club is an incredible facility for such a small island. There are plenty of people in the UK who aren’t lucky enough to live within 15-20 minutes of quality indoor courts with a great coaching team. It must have been a tremendous help for Heather Watson to grow up with facilities like these on her doorstep.’
Event director Sara Woolland said the event had been extremely successful for a second year.
‘We have been incredibly lucky to have been able to welcome such elite athletes to Guernsey and to give locals the unique chance to watch world class sport on their doorstep. But best of all is seeing the spectators leaving with big smiles on their faces and hearing the kids asking their parents when they can next play tennis. The chance to inspire the next generation of players is what it is all about,’ said Mrs Woolland.
The event was made possible thanks to local volunteers and businesses including Island FM, The Farmhouse Hotel, Aurigny, Marks & Spencer, IPS Ultraprint and Specsavers.