Sarah Strawbridge named Cathie Sabin Volunteer of the Year
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Sarah Strawbridge has been crowned a national winner at the prestigious LTA Tennis Awards for her trailblazing exploits to help grow tennis in her community.
The Somerset resident scooped the LTA’s Cathie Sabin Volunteer of the Year Award after continuing to champion participation through lockdown and adapting to Covid-19 restrictions.
Strawbridge, who operates at Cheddar Lawn Tennis Club, has adapted creatively to the demands of the pandemic, shown consistent leadership and teamwork and helped tennis boom back to life in the south-west after lockdown.
She was announced as the winner by television and radio presenter Karthi Gnanasegaram at a live-streamed awards ceremony presented by Great Britain Davis Cup captain Leon Smith.
The LTA Tennis Awards are now in their sixth year and celebrate the achievements and contributions of outstanding tennis volunteers, coaches, officials, venues and players across the country.
And Strawbridge was hand-picked as one of 16 national winners recognised at the awards ceremony last Thursday, which honoured individuals involved in tennis at grassroots, county, regional and national level.
As chair and safeguarding officer at Cheddar Lawn Tennis Club, Strawbridge has given up countless hours in 2020 to create a safe environment in which to play tennis. In addition, she almost single-handedly doubled the number of sponsors and secured funding for court resurfacing and the refurbishment of the clubhouse. Strawbridge passionately promotes diversity and instigated an inclusive programme with Parkinson’s disease, Down syndrome and wheelchair participants.
She’s helped blaze a trail for volunteers in Somerset, enhanced participation and sponsorship and been passionate about promoting diversity and fostering an inclusive tennis environment.
Nominations were drawn from over 25,000 volunteers, nearly 5,000 coaches and 1,000 officials, 22,000 schools, nearly 3,000 clubs and over 9,000 LTA approved tournaments, with Strawbridge recognised for her inspirational work in the south-west.
The quality and quantity of the nominations demonstrate outstanding work that has been done in tennis through the pandemic and David Rawlinson, LTA President, said: “The LTA Tennis Awards are a real celebration of the people that make our sport thrive.
“They celebrate the achievements made by outstanding volunteers, coaches, officials, venues and players, who are all vital in helping us to grow the game.
“The past year has been challenging for everyone, but to see the tremendous positive contributions the nominees have made to the sport and to their communities has been tremendously uplifting.”
National Runners Up
Paul Asensio - Hartlepool Tennis Club
Paul Asensio led the redevelopment of Hartlepool Tennis Club including the installation of floodlights, the resurfacing of five courts and access improvements. He oversaw the implementation of Covid-19 protocols ensuring tennis could restart safely and helped double club membership by extending pay and play. He also organised free coaching to the community in the park and created weekly Zoom quizzes to help keep the spirits up of members during lockdown.
Melanie Dawes - Rhyl Tennis Club
Melanie Dawes volunteered over 100 hours last year to support Rhyl Tennis Club’s coaching programme and countless more as Treasurer. She obtained grants to provide equipment to the community and has been instrumental in raising over £50,000 to create Wales’ first mini and touch tennis arenas. Her online competition to find the most creative way to continue tennis at home was picked up by the Welsh Government who promoted it to parents to help keep their children active.
Cathie Sabin Volunteer of the Year 2021 – National Shortlist
- Paul Asensio from Hartlepool Tennis Club
- Amanda Barclay from West End Lawn Tennis Centre in Dundee
- Melanie Dawes from Rhyl Tennis Club in Wales
- Paul Draper from Brentwood Hard Court Tennis Club in Essex
- Judi Smowton from Leatherhead Tennis Club in Surrey
- Nigel Stonier from Woore Tennis Club in Shropshire
- Sarah Strawbridge from Cheddar Lawn Tennis Club in Somerset