Humans of the Court: Elly’s Story

01/10/2020

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Elly Shearman, head coach at King's Tennis Club in Bristol

Humans of the Court is a content series on Instagram from the LTA, bringing you real life stories from those who make tennis in Britain what it is. 

Whether they be players, coaches or volunteers, young or old, beginners picking a racket for the first time or life-long veterans, the series will showcase those involved in tennis in communities across the country and shine a spotlight on the many faces of the sport. Follow the LTA and the #HumansOfTheCourt hashtag on Instagram to uncover more stories!

When she first became a mother, Bristol-based tennis coach Elly Shearman wanted to stay fit while also caring for her baby daughter.

Noticing there were limited opportunities for new mums to exercise with their babies and toddlers in her local area, she decided to take matters into her own hands. 

“I went to a BuggyFit exercise class with my child and thought there was no reason we couldn't do it with tennis,” she said.

Elly, who grew up in Bristol and has played tennis throughout her life, organised weekly Monday morning sessions for new mothers – helping them improve their games, take some time out to exercise and meet other women in their position.

Elly Shearman, head coach at King's Tennis Club in Bristol

Buggies with babies in are placed at the side of the court, coaches entertain toddlers with games and fun activities and after the sessions take place Elly encourages the women to stay for tea and biscuits.   

“There are a lot of toddlers, and the Mum and Baby Class is their start into tennis,” she said. “They started doing that when they were two and now they’re doing tennis lessons, it’s quite a cool way to introduce it to little ones.

“It's kind of cheap and cheerful because that's what the women want – they have a cup of tea and a biscuit afterwards. It’s kind of taken off and I know a lot of people are looking forward to getting back to it.”

Elly is also the head coach at Kings Tennis Club in Bristol and thanks to funding through the LTA’s Open Court programme, which forms part of the governing body’s work to open up tennis to new audiences through supporting activities for disabled people and those with long-term health conditions. She runs her Ladies’ Wellbeing and Tots tennis programme all year round with her husband Francois and believes the sessions are hugely beneficial for the health and wellbeing of women with young children.

Elly Shearman, head coach at King's Tennis Club in Bristol

“I think it’s great for the mums’ mental wellbeing to be outside and get active. The sessions give them a full body workout so they feel like they have done something and it’s benefiting their health – both physical and mental.

“Bristol is where I grew up playing, so some of my happiest memories are from there,” she said. “My entire life’s been built around tennis. We live in quite a small house, just being outside and being active, for me personally is hugely important, I’m a different person when I'm active.”

Humans of the Court

Humans of the Court is part of the LTA’s Play Your Way campaign. Follow the #HumansOfTheCourt hashtag to uncover more stories. Find out how to get on court athttps://www.lta.org.uk/playyourway or by following@the_LTA on Twitter and@theLTA1 on Facebook.

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