Club of the week: tennis

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With seven teams, a record breaking 300 new members, social tennis and coaching, Saints tennis has never been better.

With the tennis ‘season’ taking place between October and March, you would be right in thinking, “What are these people doing?” At the age of 15, Andy Murray moved to Spain. Whilst he would claim this was to receive better coaching, lets be hon­est; he was fed up of playing in five layers looking like the Michelin man. Despite these potential set backs, ten­nis at St Andrews is thriving.

As a former University of Edinburgh student (apologies) I’ve now been part of two university ten­nis clubs. I can safely say St Andrews is lightyears ahead of its rival.

Tennis is one of eight ‘focus’ sports here. This entails greater funding, individual strength and condition­ing sessions and a director of tennis in Mike Aitken. Mike devotes a huge amount of time organising match­es, training sessions and travelling around Scotland watching the teams.

His plans for pre-season, the larg­est seen so far, were made a whole four months in advance. Fear not, howev­er, his wife sees him on Saturdays… For all the work and effort Mike puts in all are extremely grateful! The re­sults this season are greatly attributed to this.

In competition, there are four mens teams and three womens teams competing in the BUCS leagues. This comprises the greatest number of any university in Scotland. An impressive feat considering the size of Glasgow and Edinburgh coupled with the re­sources at Stirling. The mens and la­dies first and seconds are in the top two leagues respectively. The two first teams also compete in the Aegon Tennis Scotland Open facing clubs from around Scotland. The format for both see teams of four play four sin­gles and two doubles matches.

Despite the university’s small size the players have been holding their own. The ladies won promotion in the Aegon leagues and have already thumped Edinburgh and Glasgow this season. The influx of freshers to the girls squad bodes extremely well for the future.

The mens’ team won all their Aegon Team tennis matches gaining promotion to Scotland’s top division. Notable victories for the boys this sea­son include victory over Edinburgh University firsts and Edinburgh club St Serfs whilst the second team white­washed Dundee firsts 12-0. A Spring tour to Spain and competitions in France await in them in the new year.

Aside from competitive matches, there are many other features mem­bers can enjoy. For a nominal £20 per semester, members receive group coaching, available for beginners, intermediate and advanced players each week. Social turn-up-and-play sessions run twice a week and are run by committee members. Alternatively, a variety of evening socials are held every Wednesday night.

Don’t let the winter weather fool you. With four floodlit synthetic grass courts, free use of rackets/ balls and a plethora of keen, friendly members, tennis is one of the top clubs to join at St Andrews. Even if you’re not part of the club, ‘fitness plus’ gym members can book courts for free. Non-mem­bers pay £3 an hour.

Tennis has never had it so good in this country; with a homegrown Wimbledon champion for the first time in living memory there is no rea­son not to be inspired enough to pick up your racket, don your finest whites and head on over to the sports centre for some tremendous tennis fun.

So the next time you’re feeling guilty for not leaving your library chair for 8 hours and eating that foot­long sub come down for a hit!

Alternatively if the sight of tight shorts and skirts is the only exercise you need, matches take place on Wednesday afternoons at the AU. Enjoy!

Are you a club who would like to be our “club of the week”? Want to discuss your club, your sport and have it marketed to a wide and receptive audience? Email the sport editor, Andrew McQuillan at sport@thesaint-online.com or tweet him at @saint_sport to get your sport club cast firmly in the spotlight. If you would like a particular event or match covered, our team of crack reporters and skilled sports photographers will be on the scene to document every thrill and spill of your team’s fixture.

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