A 17 year old tennis enthusiast from Durham has just returned from a week long volunteer placement at Wimbledon. John Heppell, a coach and player at the Durham Archery Lawn Tennis Club was invited to volunteer in the ‘Play Tennis Zone’ at the All England Club after being awarded the Aegon British Tennis Young Volunteer of the Year award in the North.
John was on hand in the Play Tennis Zone for the second week of the Championships helping school children try different tennis activities and answering questions from the general public about the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), Wimbledon and all things tennis! Participants in the Play Tennis Zone tried their hand at a variety of challenges, from measuring the speed of their serve to taking on ‘The Wall’ or beating the coach on site!
‘On the first day, the presenters of ITV’s Good Morning Britain & This Morning came and tried out the different activities – I got on TV in the background!’ said John.
John worked shifts of 2 hours with an hour’s break between each, which left him lots of time for spectating and enjoying the event: ‘My staff pass meant I was able to watch tennis on Centre Court and Court 1 as well as skip the lines for food and drinks. We got £18 a day for our meals on site’ explained John. ‘The highlight was watching all of Roger Federer’s second week matches at some point, from his round of 16 right through to the finals – he is fantastic’. Roger Federer made history at this year’s Championships claiming an 8th title after defeating Croatian Maran Cilic in straight sets.
As well as volunteering and spectating, John was also invited to the British Tennis Wimbledon Ball at the Hurlingham Club on Saturday 8th July where he met Australian tennis legend, Rob Laver. John was afforded both opportunities as a reward for all of this volunteering in tennis at Durham Archery Lawn Tennis Club.
John was inspired to take up tennis at the age of 4 after watching his hero Roger Federer on television. He took to the grass courts at Durham Archery Club and a decade later started volunteering on a Saturday morning, helping the coaches with the younger players. Now aged 17, John has taken on the role of Assistant Coach at the club, helping young players achieve in their first tournaments. He is a Level 2 qualified coach and hopes to take his Level 3 and become a fully qualified coach when he turns 18 as a springboard for a career in the sports industry. He has shown great commitment to the sport, giving up his Friday evenings and Saturday mornings to help younger players and loves inspiring people to improve: ‘I want to make players feel happy and able to enjoy tennis as it really is a great game - I love it’ said John.
Speaking of his Wimbledon trip, John said: ‘I loved the whole experience and I would definitely recommend it to anybody else that has the opportunity to take it’.
For more information please contact:
Suzzi Garnett – Regional Tennis Services Assistant – Suzanne.firstname.lastname@example.org – 0208 487 7040
• The Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA) mission is to get more people playing tennis more often, and its role is to develop, promote and govern tennis in Britain.
• The LTA’s ‘Play Tennis Zone’ at the Championships, Wimbledon offers the public the opportunity to take part in interactive tennis activities, enter competitions and chat to friendly and knowledgeable representatives of the LTA about how to get involved in British Tennis.
• Aegon has been the lead sponsor of British Tennis since 2009 with the contract concluding in 2017.
• The Aegon British Tennis Awards recognise and celebrate the work of volunteers who work tirelessly to help more people play tennis across the UK.
• For more information on the LTA and the work of British Tennis visit www.lta.org.uk. For more information on Aegon visit www.aegon.co.uk