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Kent LTA appoint Mary Evans as new president

As a junior, Mary played all her tennis in Shropshire, captaining her school tennis team and junior club teams. Training as a nurse at Guy’s Hospital, Mary didn’t have the opportunity to play again until moving to Otford in 1978 when she joined the local tennis club, and played in the Ladies team for several years.

When her daughters were young, they started playing ‘Short Tennis’ as it was then known. Mary was invited to coach the top year of eight pupils at Russell House, the school her girls attended, and having had a very enjoyable time doing that, she decided to train as a tennis coach which she did in 1986.

Mary was then asked to set up a tennis programme throughout the whole school. Six Mini tennis courts were marked out on the newly installed netball courts, and as the school grew with the new Headmistress in situ, so too did the tennis programme there.

In this group the children’s ages were between 3-5 years. Mary was aware that she had one child who had spinabifida who could not take part and used to watch from the sidelines. During this time the Kent Wheelchair representative paid Mary a visit and showed her the ‘what and how to’ get this girl involved in mini tennis. Mary still speaks fondly of that day when for the first time the girl could participate with the other children. It was an emotional day with parents in tears and Mary described it as ‘simply magical’.

With Saturday morning football on offer, Mary set up a come and play session for both Nursery and Y1 children which also proved very popular with parents. Other sessions followed on for those who were also doing football, so that they too could participate. As time went on, teams were put together and entered county run tournaments. This is where Mary first met Sandi Proctor who was running the junior tennis programme at The Parklangley Club, as she had put in multiple teams from that venue. Mary said “She gave me so much encouragement and advice and helped me to further develop the school programme”.

By this time Mary’s youngest daughter had been invited to a Kent LTA talent ID session at the Bailey Tennis Centre run by Clint Harris the County Performance Officer at the time.

Following that she received an invitation to a County Development squad and then became completely hooked on tennis. She was gradually drawn into the county programme and Mary started helping at tournaments.

School holidays were spent travelling around the county initially competing in tournaments, and gradually extending to countrywide, often travelling as far as Cornwall, Shropshire and Suffolk.

Mary then became involved in the running of the Kent County Schools Tennis Association tournaments for Primary schools. Mary found this hugely enjoyable and rewarding, and she continued until 2017.

Mary also helped with the running of the IAPS tournaments for a few years and helped with the introduction of a computerised system at the Junior County Championships when it was held at Beckenham Tennis Club.

In 2001 she set up and ran the Otford Mini Tennis Club, coaching up to 250 children a week and hoping to inspire them with her passion for the sport, alongside her coaching at Russell House School who won the Education Award for school f the year in 2004 during Mary’s reign.

Having joined the Kent LTA Council in 1995 Mary became Chairman of the Junior Development Committee. In 2005, she was invited to help set up the first event for presentation of the County Awards and since then her role in this capacity has enlarged, so that she is now chair of the Awards Committee. In 2015 the LTA recognised that this was a good way to identify and reward those who have helped develop the game at the grass roots and performance levels and introduced their national awards scheme.

Mary was appointed Kent LTA President at the Kent LTA AGM held on the 16th January in Bromley. Mary will be the second lady president for Kent and will get great enjoyment from her role.

She commented: “It is a privilege to be a small cog in the highly successful wheels of Kent Tennis, and giving something back to the County Association”.

The Annual Awards Dinner will take place on Saturday 11th February at the Delta Tudor Park Hotel and Country Club in Bearsted when the winners will be announced. Mary plays a key part in the set up of the awards evening and is a co-host presenter. However she will also be presenting some awards in her new role as Kent LTA President.



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