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Aidah Isa, the volunteer driving force behind new courts in Inverness

• 5 MINUTE READ

Volunteers are the lifeblood of tennis, selflessly and tirelessly ensuring others have access to everything they need to participate and compete.

It goes without saying that one of those essentials is high-quality facilities – which is where the Tennis Scotland Volunteer of the Year stepped in.

Aidah Isa has been a driving force behind eye-catching new courts at Bellfield Park in Inverness, funded by the Park Tennis Project, a £30 million partnership between Tennis Scotland, the LTA and the UK Government.

Previously ridden with holes and uneven surfaces, eight courts have been given a stunning new lease of life, transforming tennis for the entire community, who will also now benefit from two additional mini-tennis courts.

Aidah, 49, was a thoroughly deserving winner at our ceremony in Stirling – but insists that “no-one can do it in isolation”, pointing in particular to the sterling efforts of Bellfield’s founding committee member and secretary Lizzy Burke, the two having worked alongside partners including High Life Highland and Highland Council to bring the vision of a revamp to fruition.

Reflecting on her award to mark Volunteers' Week, Aidah, who is Chairperson of Bellfield Park Tennis Club, said: “It was a huge honour to win the Volunteer of the Year award. I’m very grateful to everyone who has helped and shown support along the way. The glamorous stuff like awards is nice, but all volunteers know it’s rarely like that – you clean the courts, you clean the toilets, you do a tonne of baking… all sorts of things.

“Even when doing these things, it’s lovely to have a group alongside you and gives you a nice feeling that you’re part of something bigger.

“Lizzy has been there right from the start and has contributed massively to getting the courts revamped. She keeps things going and promotes the ethos of the club.”

Aidah and the team at Bellfield were mulling over refurbishment options when they travelled to Glasgow for the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in 2022. It was at that event that they met with Tennis Scotland, learned about the Park Tennis Project and began the process of overhauling their courts.

“Everyone is delighted with the new surfaces,” said Aidah. “All the problems we had are gone. There were really challenging times for the club, but by working together, we’ve been able to push through.”

“Tennis mad” Aidah, who is originally from Malaysia and works as an Ear, Nose and Throat Consultant, started playing in her late 20s and discovered Bellfield after moving to Inverness. With her husband and two children also members, tennis is a family affair and Aidah, who plays in the Ladies’ Team, found she was gaining so much from the club that she wanted to get more involved.

“One of the things that attracted me to the club in the first place was how welcoming and friendly it was, across all ages and abilities,” she said. “It’s also situated in a lovely park, surrounded by trees.

“We want to support each other and grow tennis in the community, to make it accessible to as many people as possible. We’re trying hard to keep our fees low and make it affordable – as a club, we’re excited to see how far we can go.”

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