From meeting tennis legend Tim Henman, to winning a Jaguar F-PACE for the weekend, a Sunday at the Jaguar Championships is set to live long in the memory for David Lloyd Cheadle tennis club.
The team of Emma Lingard, Ryan Crampton, Stuart Owens and Sarah Diver descended on Raynes Park this weekend, finishing second in the National Final of an ever-growing competition.
More than 1,600 players from 417 teams took part in this, the second year of the Jaguar Championships, a mixed-doubles event for adults in both improver and advanced categories.
An extra surprise was in store for the teams with none other than former British No.1 Henman watching on, while a prize of Wimbledon Centre Court tickets were up for grabs.
They were to miss out to repeat winners Finchley, but that couldn’t put a dampener on the day for 23-year-old Lingard, delighted to make the most of the opportunity on offer.
“It was really exciting to be at the finals, it’s not something you do every day and we’d worked hard to get there so we were determined to enjoy it as much as possible,” she said.
“We went for the Wimbledon tickets, I’ve been there a few times so it’s very exciting, but the prize of the F-Pace for the weekend was excellent too, not a bad runner-up prize to take.
“I played tennis when I was young, I had family who played for Cheshire and I picked up a racket when I was three from where I’ve never really looked back.
“All the people you meet are really nice, I met some great people through tennis when studying, and it’s something really enjoyable.
“I watched Tim Henman a lot when I was younger, but he’s a great guy and he’s had some fantastic achievements in his career, so it was fantastic for him to be able to come down and present the awards.”
Teams had to battle through club competitions and regional finals just to reach the national showcase, leaving the best of the best to show what they could do at David Lloyd Raynes Park.
And with a strong level of talent on display, Henman – a four-time Wimbledon semi-finallist – was more than impressed with what he saw from everyone taking part in the Jaguar Championships.
“I was here 12 months ago and it was good to see the finals take place, and for me this is a big step back in time,” said the former world No.4.
“I used to practice at Raynes Park when I was 12 as part of the David Lloyd Academy, so 30 years on it’s quite frightening to see the time go but it’s great to be back.
“It’s all about accessibility and opportunity, and to see the teams out there really enjoying themselves and competing in a really good facility is a massive benefit to everyone.
“It’s great fun for them to be playing in a healthy and active sport and lifestyle, but also having that competitive element and getting more and more people to play the game.
“To have two different levels for people to compete in is a good sign, it shows that people are interested in the event and for this to be growing in just its second year is a real positive, something we can hopefully build on in the future.”
Tim Henman was speaking at The Jaguar Championships as part of Jaguar’s partnership with David Lloyd Clubs. Visit http://www.jaguar.co.uk/jaguar-range/f-pace/index.html to find out more about the F-PACE, the Official Car of The Championships, Wimbledon