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Surrey.Tennis 2017/2018

A review of all the activities in Surrey Tennis in 2017/2018 Published by Surrey.Tennis

coaching Interview Grant

coaching Interview Grant Fellows, head coach at a club in southwest London, has more than doubled membership since he arrived in 2013, and has won coaching awards for his efforts. What’s his secret? He’s a jolly good Fellows e has earned himself the nickname, ‘The Pied Piper of H Merton’. Grant Fellows, the award-winning coach at Cranleigh Tennis & Social Club in southwest London, has doubled the number of his junior members, and created a thriving club scene that’s the envy of other sports facilities in the area. When he first took over the club coaching in 2013, there were just 70-odd junior members and 50-odd adults. In four short years he has increased those numbers to 140 and 130 respectively. Quite a feat. So what’s the secret to his success? This 34-year-old, originally from Wolverhampton, attributes it to a combination of hard work, customer service, and great coaching at affordable prices. Fellows, who used to play county tennis for Staffordshire and has completed a tennis coaching management degree, runs Cranleigh’s coaching programme through his own company, Limitless Tennis. The business model he uses is unusual in that he pays the club a licence to run the programme, and then charges the members directly for coaching sessions. It’s a system that continually incentivises him, he says. “The more players I get, the more revenue I earn.” Currently, junior coaching starts at £8.40 an hour, with a maximum of eight kids per session. Fellows believes, right now, he has his strongest ever team of coaches in place. There are five altogether, including himself. “We’ve got the personalities, the energy, we always think about how things can be done better,” he says. “We have regular coaches’ meetings to discuss standards. We ask ourselves: ‘If we had our own children or family members being coached, what would we want them to receive?’” And he places a strong emphasis on that crucial combination of learning and having fun. “It sounds quite simple but it’s hard to get the balance between the two.” There are five courts at Cranleigh Tennis & Social Club, all artificial clay. They were installed thanks to a combination of LTA money and club fundraising. “Members took part in a 24-hour tennis marathon,” Fellows remembers. “There were club quizzes and beer evenings.” Fellows himself even did a parachute jump to raise money. None of these artificial clay courts are indoor, but that’s not such a disadvantage. As Fellows explains, the grippy surface of the carpet means they 12 surrey tennis magazine

can be used in all weather. Just as well, since the club schedule is often exceedingly busy. As well as the thriving junior scene, Fellows also oversees coaching of local schools: five primary schools, two secondaries and a further education college. In addition there is a disabled coaching scheme. He says he’s open to all sorts of different coaching ideas. “I’m happy to give anything a go,” he says. “I will support all LTA initiatives such “The pied pier of Merton”, Grant Fellows on court at Cranleigh Tennis & Social Club as Cardio Tennis, Great British Tennis Weekend, Tennis Tuesdays, and do all we can to provide tennis for all.” Although Cranleigh is the only club Fellows works with, he has plans to expand his coaching network in the future. “Ideally, I’d love to have a tennis school; an academy,” he says. Given the great reputation the Pied Piper of Merton has already made for himself, that academy may well prove to be very popular. surrey tennis magazine 13