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From tots to care homes, award-winning Kelso Orchard Tennis Club unites local community

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Efforts to unite the local community through sport meant Kelso Orchard Tennis Club was a deserving winner of the prestigious Club of the Year prize at the Tennis Scotland Awards 2024.

Tireless work has gone into enhancing the tennis experience for all club members and locals with an interest in learning to play or developing their game.

Three outdoor, floodlit hard courts are accompanied by a refurbished clubhouse at the Scottish Borders club, which has proven the ideal venue for introducing tennis to all ages, from tots to care home residents.

Founded in 1969, Kelso Orchard has pushed hard to develop ties with the local business community to drive fundraising efforts and prides itself on being an inclusive and welcoming venue which is accessible to all.

Kate Bull, the club’s Treasurer, explained: “We are proud to be an inclusive environment and strive to offer opportunities for all ages and abilities. We have gone out into the community and taken tennis to those who might not have had the chance to experience it.”

Kate, who started out as a volunteer in 2011, has progressed through the coaching programme to become a Level 3 coach. She works alongside Head Coach Lesley Thomas, who is celebrating her 20th year at the club.

Recent efforts to inspire more young players alongside Active Schools has seen junior membership soar, while ‘come and try’ festivals saw Kelso Orchard’s doors opened to anyone who fancied picking up a racket. Around 30 children attended each event, with many going on to become members.

To ensure tennis activity was available at convenient times, invitations to lunchtime and after-school sessions were dispatched to local primary schools, attracting 75 junior players to each block.

Other initiatives have included tots’ tennis in the clubhouse for 36 young players, many of whom have progressed into sessions for four-six year-olds.

At the opposite end of the age scale, Kelso Orchard has worked alongside care homes to prove that tennis is a sport for life, introducing walking tennis sessions for residents. The successful move led to provider QME Care reporting that tennis has improved residents’ appetite, stress levels and sleep quality.

Reflecting on the club’s efforts with their residents, QME said: “One of the most significant benefits of the tennis club visits is the social aspect. Lesley and Kate chat with everyone, encouraging participation and maintaining community links. In doing so, they have played an integral role in enhancing residents’ physical and mental wellbeing.”

Competitive spirit is also strong within Kelso Orchard, which hosts Scotland Tour events for juniors aged 8U-16U and Play Your Way to Wimbledon contests. Another important date on the calendar is the Kelso Civic Week Challenge, where tournaments for adults and juniors alike feature as part of a wider community festival.

Kelso Orchard also participates in the Borders League, with active teams in the men’s, women’s, juniors and mixed categories. Last year, the junior first team won their division and were promoted to Division 1 for the 2024 season.

Looking ahead, Kelso Orchard has big plans for the future, with an upgraded clubhouse kitchen on the menu to complement the large meetings and events space. LED floodlighting is also high on the agenda to make the venue more sustainable.

And the door remains open to new members, with Kelso Orchard keen to roll out the welcome mat to anyone who wants to give tennis a try, further enhancing their status in the local community.

Memberships (per year):

  • Adult – £90
  • Concession – £60
  • Disability – £40
  • Household/family – £160
  • Junior (Primary) – £10
  • Junior (Secondary) – £25
  • New Adult – £40
  • Social – £20
  • Summer Family – £75

 

For more information on Kelso Orchard Tennis Club click here

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