By Simon Yeend
This time last year Cuckfield Tennis Club was preparing for the upsurge in interest in the sport that Wimbledon brings, but with a touch of apprehension. The courts were in disrepair and the clubhouse was in danger of collapse.
Now, thanks to the generosity of the Mayor, the District Council and community of Cuckfield and some hard work by the committee, the club has newly laid courts and a revamped clubhouse. More than £30,000 has been spent on the refurbishment programme, money that has made a dramatic difference.
Membership Secretary Gerry Canning says the results are remarkable. “The resurfacing cost around £28,000,” he said. “There is a vast difference. The previous surfaces had not been maintained for several years and were uneven with loose tarmac and the bounce was inconsistent. I would go so far as to say they were unsafe for play.
“The new surface on the three courts is all-weather tarmacadam, the same as before, but they are now pristine. Everyone who has played on them has been very complimentary – the bounce is true and, yes, we love them!
“The clubhouse has been structurally secured with new foundations. It was being undermined by damp and wood rot. The rotten rear cladding was renewed to protect the building, plumbing was repaired to stop the ingress of water. A retaining wall has been built behind the clubhouse to protect the building, and new floor tiles were installed throughout the public area which are a marked improvement to the interior.”
The club took over the running of the club from the council in 2015 and members have worked tirelessly to raise money and to get it to the impressive state it is now in. The new courts were officially opened by Mayor Wilf Knighton at a ceremony on Cuckoo Fayre Day and the publicity from that day has helped boost membership, with eight people joining in the weeks after that.
Gerry adds that the club is always looking for new members. “We are a friendly club situated in the delightful surroundings of the Recreation Ground, behind the Queens Hall in Cuckfield,” he said. “We welcome all tennis abilities, young and old. We now have two coaches working mostly with the juniors, but also offering adult coaching for players new to the game or returning after a break.
“We have three sessions of social tennis each week for adults during the summer (Tuesday and Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons). No need to book – just come along and try us out. Junior coaching is on Wednesdays and Saturday mornings. Other times are available free to members. See the club website for details – www.cuckfieldtennisclub.org.uk – on how to join. There is a court booking system for casual tennis outside club session times.
“For the more energetic among you, we have several teams playing in local leagues and a club tournament each year. There are social tennis events throughout the year and, of course, the bar is open at every opportunity.
So, whether you are a new or returning player, you will be assured of a warm welcome at Cuckfield. It’s the next best thing to playing at Wimbledon SW19!”
The next social tennis event and BBQ, for adult members, is on Saturday 22nd July starting at 2pm.