Top volunteer Don Saul wins Cathie Sabin Award at LTA Tennis Awards

30/07/2020

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Don Saul of Ackworth Tennis Club in Yorkshire is celebrating after being recognised at the 2020 LTA Tennis Awards for his outstanding contribution as a volunteer.

One of 18 national winners from across the country, Don Saul was given the prestigious ‘Cathie Sabin Award’ for Volunteer of the Year.

This year, more than any other, communities have been reminded just how vital volunteers are not just within sport, but to society across the country.

Within tennis, volunteers have shown an incredible effort in re-opening clubs, supporting their members and their wider communities, often being a lifeline to others facing personal hardship.

There are more than 25,000 volunteers in tennis but few can match the impact Don has had, taking Ackworth from the verge of extinction to being a highly successful, diverse and dynamic organisation increasing membership by 665 per cent.

Don has donated countless hours and worked with myriad of partners to breathe new life into his club, including the NHS, Ackworth School and the Tim Henman Foundation.

In a virtual ceremony held on Thursday, Don was presented with his award – named in honour of the late Cathie Sabin, a true champion of volunteers – by Dave Rawlinson, LTA president.

Currently in their fifth year, the LTA Tennis Awards celebrate the achievements made by outstanding tennis volunteers, coaches, officials, venues and players in Britain. To be in contention for the national award, Don had already claimed the County award for Yorkshire and the LTA regional award for the North of England.

Streamed live on LTA channels and presented by Leon Smith OBE, the national ceremony – which was digital for the first time in the awards’ history – saw Don pick up his award alongside 17 other national winners, including current British No.1s Dan Evans and Johanna Konta who were named the LTA Men’s and Women’s ‘Player of the Year’ respectively.

This year saw more than 2,000 nominations across grassroots categories including Young Person of the Year and Club of the Year.

Nominations were drawn from more than 25,000 volunteers, 4,400 coaches, 940 officials, 20,000 schools, 2,700 clubs and more than 9,700 LTA approved tournaments, demonstrating the extraordinary contributions of individuals and venues who help to open up the sport and bring new fans and players to the game.

“The LTA Tennis Awards are a real celebration of the people that make our sport thrive,” said LTA president, David Rawlinson. “They celebrate the achievements made by outstanding volunteers, coaches, officials, venues and players, who are all vital in helping us to grow the game.

“To be named a national winner out of over 2,000 public nominations is a fantastic achievement so I’d like to congratulate all of this year’s winners and extend my thanks to each and every one of them for all that they do to help tennis in Britain.”

National Runners Up

Marian Vinall

Marian is a truly inspirational lady who has been a trailblazer for safeguarding.  Due to Marian's passion, Devon is leading the way nationally on safeguarding, and she has provided a massive amount of support to local clubs. And that’s not counting the nine other voluntary roles she takes on within her own club!

Susan Stannard

Susan has been a very popular member of the volunteer team at Grantham Tennis Club for many years.  Sue volunteered over 250 hours in 2019 including with her mental health and Learning Disability tennis sessions. She raised £1,000 for charity and her zest for tennis is palpable on and off court.

Cathie Sabin Award: LTA Volunteer of the Year 2020 – National Shortlist

  • Alison James from Windsor Lawn Tennis Club in Wales
  • Bryan Leslie from Gullane Tennis Club in Scotland
  • Derek Avery from Redhill Lawn Tennis Club in Surrey
  • Don Saul         from Ackworth Tennis Club in Yorkshire
  • Marian Vinall from Devon County Association
  • Mike Watling from Ipswich Sports Club in Suffolk
  • Susan Stannard from Grantham Tennis Club in Lincolnshire

To see a full list of winners from the LTA Tennis Awards 2020 click here.

A Tribute to Cathie Sabin, OBE

From LTA President, David Rawlinson

Cathie Sabin OBE

The inspirational woman behind our LTA Tennis Awards, Cathie Sabin, passed away in May this year.

It is impossible to do justice to quite what Cathie contributed to tennis. Cathie was President of the LTA from 2014 to 2016 and was incredibly passionate about grassroots tennis and the wonderful people who make our sport thrive.

She frequently mentioned the importance of ‘recognition, rewards and awards’ and during her tenure as President, took the time to expand and reinvigorate our tennis awards to make them what they are today.

But for Cathie, recognition went beyond an annual celebration. Throughout her presidency, Cathie took the time to visit clubs, counties, community programmes and tournaments to show her appreciation for everyone involved in our sport. She would talk to everyone and everyone loved her.

I'm sure our ‘Players of the Year’ Jo Konta and Dan Evans, will remember Cathie for her support when she visited major events, including Davis Cup and Fed Cup ties.

I'm sure the teachers at the schools she visited will remember her joining in with children playing tennis in the playground.

Cathie Sabin OBE

I'm sure all of the tournament officials involved today and watching from home will remember her visits to the umpires’ room at various tournaments.

And I’m sure those of you watching from the clubs and counties that Cathie visited will remember how special she made you feel and how much she enjoyed watching all of the activities happening at your venues.

No matter how you engaged with Cathie, I’m sure you’ll remember how friendly she was, how generous she was with her time, how heartfelt her wonderful speeches were and how sincere she was when she asked how you were.

Undoubtedly, Cathie’s heart belonged to volunteers. Those aged 9 to 90 who make our sport thrive. Cathie was a volunteer herself for over 50 years – she was dedicated, hard-working, genuine, a great leader and an exceptional ambassador both at home and internationally. She also had a particular passion for getting young people involved in our sport and made a point of phoning or spending time with our ‘Young Person of the Year’ award winners.

Cathie Sabin OBE

All of us who had the privilege of knowing Cathie feel honoured. In 2016, Cathie herself was honoured with an OBE and just three years later, she was presented with the ‘Carl Aarvold Award’, the highest accolade the LTA can give. 

Cathie’s passion for the tennis community was unbounding and the LTA Tennis Awards will be her legacy for many years to come.

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