Two former Davis Cup players paid a special visit to Amherst Lawn Tennis Club.
Luke Milligan and Danny Sapsford were joined by upwards of 300 players and spectators of all ages for a hotly-anticipated open day at the Hastings club.
Those in attendance were provided with the best coaching, catering and courtside entertainment that an almost wholly volunteer staff could provide.
Sapsford, a 46-year-old ex-professional, led Amherst’s coaching sessions on the day in a pink shirt, striped navy shorts and grey cap.
As a physical exemplar of what a lifetime in professional sport can do for you, he’s a bit of a wreck: arthritic hip, dodgy knee, expanding waistline.
As enthusiastic coach and motivator to both kids and adults of widely disparate talents, he was magnificent, making an afternoon educative and memorable for over 100 racket-wielders.
Aided by his calmly self-effacing co-professional Milligan and Amherst (6-Love) coaches, Sapsford divided them into four groups, categorised by age and stage, giving three-quarters of an hour’s concentrated drills to two sets of kids, then an hour to two more of adults.
Barely stopping for breath in three-and-a-half hours, he shuffled between courts like a seasoned wind-up toy fitted with a new battery, guiding, enthusing, cajoling, demonstrating.
The teenage group focussed on forehands and adult pairs learnt mobility around the court. Feedback has been very positive according to Amherst head coach Jack Graham. His half term tennis camp on the same courts the following week attracted 80 children over four days.
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