Skip to content

Thabo and fellow Tennis Activators pictured smiling and posing during the delivery of a tennis session as part of Everyone 4 Sport’s Inner-city tennis programme at Holford Drive Community Tennis Club.

No court, no problem: 24-year-old commits career to delivering tennis to local community


LTA SERVES Tennis Activator Thabo Glen Ngcobo dedicates his life to giving back to his local community, taking tennis into the heart of central Birmingham and its surrounding areas.

Thabo’s story began in his native country of South Africa before moving to the West Midlands where his blossoming love for tennis eventually led him to his calling.

The 24-year-old moved to a small village named Hampton in Arden situated South East of Birmingham over a decade ago. Having grown up a football fan, it was meeting local tennis coach, Ian Poole, which sparked his initial love for the game.

“My mum was working at the tennis club in Hampton, and she introduced me to Ian who is the Head Coach and Tennis Manager at the club,” Thabo said. “After having a conversation with my mum, he very kindly took me under his wing, and from then on, my love for both coaching and tennis just grew.”

“As a kid I didn’t play tennis. Even when I was enrolled in school over here, it wasn’t a sport that was massively accessible in my area at the time. But once I started, I just fell in love with it.

“I loved being on court, and I knew that I wanted to work with kids, so as soon as the opportunity arose to run the tennis sessions, I knew I’d found the career path that I wanted to pursue. It is without a doubt my favourite sport to coach.”

It was Ian who also pointed Thabo in the direction of the Inner-City Diversity Project, developed by community organisation, Everyone 4 Sport, to tackle inequalities and challenge the sports’ conventional image by taking tennis into underserved communities.


Both Thabo and his twin brother have since worked to deliver sessions, including the delivery of the LTA SERVES programme, that present minimal barriers across Solihull, Birmingham and Sandwell.

Yet, Thabo soon saw opportunities to expand his reach outside of just running sessions at local community centres alone.

Not only did he provide a route for his church to become an LTA SERVES community centre, establishing a team of tennis leaders and Activators to host tennis programmes, but he also volunteers his time to running sessions for young people that are suffering with mental health in a project that is closely connected with the NHS.

I love people. I think I’m one of the lucky ones because I just truly love and enjoy what I do.

“Again, my work with the NHS developed through working closely with Ian,” said Thabo.

“I ran one or two sessions a month and it’s something that I just fell in love with. It can be tough at times because people may say, ‘I don’t want to do this’ and ‘I don’t want to do that’, but the smile it brings to their faces makes it all worth it. I’m there for them.

“As soon as you tell members they’re playing tennis, they’re mood just instantly changes for the better.

“It’s also massively beneficial for kids’ overall mental health. They may have had a bad day at school, but five minutes into their tennis session and they’re smiling and having fun again. As soon as they have a racket and ball to hand, all the negativity that’s built up during the day just disappears.

Always genial and welcoming, Thabo’s approachable manner has made him a hit amongst the young people he coaches, and his role, in turn, has equally been a smash hit in his own life.

Reflecting on his experience as a volunteer coach and LTA SERVES Tennis Activator, Thabo continued, “I love people. I think I’m one of the lucky ones because I just truly love and enjoy what I do.

“For me, the number one thing is for the kids to enjoy themselves. For an hour a week, they just forget about whatever else is going on in their life and they focus on their tennis. That’s what it’s all about.”

Find out more about LTA SERVES & our 'Breaking Down Barriers' strategy

Learn more about our award-winning sport for development programme – taking tennis into the heart of local communities and helping kids aged 4-18 get active through our sport.

Read more

Cookies on LTA site

We use cookies on our site to ACE your experience, improve the quality of our site and show you content we think you’ll be interested in. Let us know if you agree to cookies or if you’d prefer to manage your own settings.