MAKING A RACKET ABOUT ILKLEY
We catch up with Tom Loughton the new Head of Rackets at Ilkley Lawn Tennis and Squash Club and discover how the former GB player wants to make tennis more inclusive to all and help discover the next Andy Murray.
As a youngster growing up, Tom Loughton always dreamed of one day lifting the Wimbledon trophy.
It’s fair to say he got closer than most after winning County Championships for Yorkshire, playing for GB at Under 14 and 16 level where he reached No.5 in the country..
Not bad for a boy from Hull who trained with Andy Murray and then went on to coach the likes of Paul Jubb and other promising youngsters at Nuffield Tennis Academy before becoming Head Coach of the Leeds Regional Development Centre.
So his arrival at Ilkley Lawn Tennis and Squash Club this year was a significant appointment and reflects the huge strides the Yorkshire club is taking in its quest to become one of the country’s most progressive sporting outfits.
As Head of Rackets, Tom has been brought in to push forward an already thriving junior tennis section; help develop the tennis, squash and padel community at Ilkley and also promote the LTA’s Outreach Programme which encourages tennis at grass roots level in underprivileged areas.
It is an exciting challenge and one that Tom is keen to get started on having seen first-hand the progress the club has made in recent years.
Talking about his role Tom said: “Ilkley is without doubt now the most prestigious tennis club in the North of England and so when I was asked to join as Head of Rackets, I was delighted to accept.
“The club is already on a huge upward curve and my goal is to keep that momentum going and further develop what is already a thriving racket community.
“As a former coach at Junior level I want to help take the next generation of youngsters here at Ilkley as far as we can and it’s exciting to see how many promising players are coming through.
“In addition I want to also help further develop the members enjoyment of tennis, squash and padel and ensure our league teams continue to grow and flourish while at the same time encourage new and existing members to develop their games.
“The success of the Ilkley Trophy here in recent years shows just how far this club has come and it’s an exciting time to be involved and bring through that next generation.”
But Tom admits one of the challenges he is most looking forward to is helping with the Outreach Programme and help bring tennis to a wider audience and encourage people of all ages to take up the sport, especially in underprivileged areas where many have never even picked up a racket.
Tom said: “During the past Ilkley Trophy I worked closely with a number of school kids who had never stepped on a court and the enjoyment it brought to not only them but us as coaches was incredible.
“If we can help introduce these kids to tennis and give them the opportunity to get involved then our chances of creating future champions will only improve.”
For a man who once trained with Andy Murray and reached the Top 10 as a junior player, the appointment of Tom Loughton at Ilkley is the latest exciting chapter for a club that continues to grow into one of the most progressive and ambitious clubs in the country.
For more information about membership or to contact the club please call 01943 607182 or visit iltsc.co.uk