Sandi Procter, the Lawn Tennis Association president, visited Shrewsbury to officially open Tennis Shropshire’s new Cathie Sabin Community Tennis Centre.
Sandi, who has followed Cathie in being appointed as the second female president of the Lawn Tennis Association, officially opened the two-court indoor centre set in a large inflatable dome last Friday.
Located on The Shrewsbury Club site at Sundorne Road, the centre – named in honour of Cathie, Shropshire’s inspirational former LTA president, who sadly passed away in May 2020 – has been welcoming tennis players since last September.
The centre’s courts are available to be booked on a pay as you play basis, while it is also proving popular with local tennis clubs and community groups.
“What I like about it is the partnership,” said Sandi. “In the first instance, getting it here was fantastic teamwork, this being a partnership between a private club and a community and a county, along with support from Sport England. It’s been a fantastic team effort.
“It’s a lovely centre and I love that it’s going to be used by the community.
“It is absolutely what Cathie Sabin was about, so I just like the whole idea, concept and the reality.”
Tennis Shropshire chair Fiona Jones, who hosted the opening ceremony, added: “The day went well and it was wonderful to see so many guests who have supported the county over the years together in one place, catching up on memories and with the added bonus of having Sandi Procter in Shropshire to conduct the opening ceremony. It was a chance to fondly remember Cathie and pay tribute to everything she achieved.
Taking the opportunity to play
“Activities then continued across a busy weekend with a number of local clubs taking the opportunity to play in the centre on Saturday afternoon. The County Cup for under-eights was also held on the same day in the adjacent Shrewsbury Club, making it a very busy Saturday and a great showcase for Shropshire tennis.
“We were also joined by lots of children on Sunday morning for a schools’ roadshow and even more families who came to play in the afternoon, so it was a very full and enjoyable weekend of tennis in our new community tennis centre.”
Guests at Friday’s official opening were welcomed by pupils from Shifnal’s Idsall School – where Cathie was a PE teacher for many years – playing tennis on the centre’s courts.
The guests enjoyed lunch before hearing speeches from Sandi Procter, Simon Jones, the LTA councillor for Shropshire, and Dave Courteen, the managing director of The Shrewsbury Club.
An exhibition one-set mixed doubles match was then played, a popular finale to the day.
Dave said: “This is absolutely unique in the UK as there’s no other facility that sits on the grounds of a private health club and is supported by a private health club, but runs on a pay as you play community basis.
“We think it’s really important as the biggest club in Shropshire that we are committed to helping to grow the sport in the county and this is part of our commitment to do that.
“We are immensely proud that with Tennis Shropshire operating and taking the lead on the Cathie Sabin Community Tennis Centre, this excellent facility has come to fruition.
“It was wonderful to have such a well attended opening day and I’m delighted that Sandi Procter as president of the LTA was here to conduct the opening ceremony.”
Pictured, from left: Simon Jones, the LTA councillor for Shropshire, LTA president Sandi Procter, Tennis Shropshire chair Fiona Jones and Dave Courteen, managing director of The Shrewsbury Club, at the official opening of the Cathie Sabin Community Tennis Centre.