Canterbury’s Jasper Cooper collected his award for Player-of-the-Year at the Kent LTA’s annual ceremony on Saturday.
Cooper, announced as the winner of the county’s top prize in December, received his award from Sandi Procter, president of the game’s governing body in Britain, the Lawn Tennis Association, at Tudor Park in Bearsted.
In an outstanding 2023, Cooper became world champion in the men’s over-70s doubles and won bronze in the world over-70s mixed doubles.
He also won three of four British national events with singles victories at Wrexham, Wimbledon and Eastbourne, together with doubles triumphs indoors at Wrexham, Bournemouth and Wimbledon.
Representing Kent in the men’s over-70s county cup team, he won 11 out of 11 rubbers and was instrumental in helping the squad retain their National County Cup title.
Team-of-the-Year winners were also announced late last year as the men’s over-60s and 70s squads took the honours.
Having won promotion from Division 2, the over-60s side of Colin Coombes (Tunbridge Wells), Keith Gill (Bromley), David Bulgin (Kings Hill), Peter Elsden (Herne Bay) and John Watton (Bearsted) beat Leicstershire in the National County Cup to go from Division 2 to national champions in two years.
The over-70s - Cooper, Rob Andrew (Knoll Orpington), Chris Morgan (Canterbury), Robin Garratt (Oakwood, Dartford) and Peter Pharo (Bromley/Beckenham) - defended their county cup title without dropping a rubber.
Club-of-the-Year (one-four courts) were Headcorn Cricket & Tennis Club, who enjoy a thriving junior programme, while a holiday programme is run at a very affordable rate. They also held a Family Cup in 2023, with more than 30 adults and children taking part.
Wye LTC were the winners of the Club-of-the-Year (five or more courts) award. The first Kent club to embrace padel tennis, Wye promote a range of membership rates and the addition of a floodlit padel court and pickleball have significantly boosted membership, which is now more than 650.
Both winners received a voucher for £500 from sports surface specialists Trevor May Contractors.
The Rising Star award was picked up by Charlie Clements of Canterbury LTC.
Clements has been a valuable asset to the club through a two-year apprenticeship coaching programme and has displayed exceptional confidence, willingness to learn and adaptability in various roles. He has also actively engaged with players of all ages, demonstrating excellent communication with parents.
Development coach-of-the-Year was Sophia Thomas, of Bexleyheath-based Martin Dene LTC. Under her leadership, the club’s junior programme has thrived, accommodating more than 100 participants weekly, while children of diverse backgrounds, including those with special educational needs, have an inclusive environment in which they can enjoy their tennis.
There were two winners of the Performance coach-of-the-Year.
Tom Martin-Jarvis of Bromley Sports Club was honoured after making a significant impact on player development, fostering a positive and enjoyable tennis environment. Testimonials highlight his exceptional coaching skills, psychological support and ability to create tailored sessions.
Sevenoaks Tennis Centre’s Max Robinson has worked with beginners through to world-ranked juniors and seniors with innovation, professionalism and integrity for 15 years. He coached the under-18 boys to back-to-back national titles in 2022-2023.
The Kent County Championships took the Competition-of-the-Year prize. Featuring players from 51 clubs and an inclusive tennis festival, the event achieved broad participation, reflecting a commitment to making tennis accessible and enjoyable for all.
Graham Silvester (Bromley/Beckenham) won this year’s Official-of-the-Year award. As a referee, tournament director, Association of British Tennis Officials mentor, and LTA tutor, he excels in organising grade 1, 2, and 3 events, covering various age groups. Graham's notable achievements include officiating at prestigious national and international competitions, Wimbledon qualifying events and refereeing at the Kent County Championships.
A sustained commitment to tennis, demonstrated by incorporating coaching into the curriculum for Years 1-6, helped win Folkestone’s Mundella Primary the School-of-the-Year award.
The school, in collaboration with Folkestone-based CH Tennis, offers year-round sessions during curriculum time, including a tennis breakfast club once a week, enhancing attendance and focus. The school promotes tennis through a free after-school club, making the sport accessible to a wide range of students.
Like this year’s Player-of-the-Year and Team-of-the-Year awards, the University-of-the-Year award was announced in December with the University of Kent the recipients.
The university significantly expanded their tennis initiatives in 2023. The student-run society offers a diverse range of engaging tennis sessions for all abilities, with successful teams in British Universities and Colleges Sport leagues. Tennis development manager Nick Skelton and the student committee enhance community outreach, promoting staff welfare and attracting participants from Canterbury and beyond. They offer innovative female-only LTA Level 1 coaching courses, too.
Sundridge Park’s padel inclusive programme impressed enough to win the Tennis for All award, bringing tennis, specifically padel, to under-represented groups and communities. The club's innovative approach, supported by the charity Access Sport, and the use of technology make tennis accessible to diverse players, inspiring positive change in mental wellbeing and fostering a welcoming community.
Whitstable LTC’s outstanding contributions to the community won them the Connecting Communities award. Their innovative disability programme covers walking, wheelchair, limited mobility, dementia-friendly, seated, sensory and tennis for individuals with physical and learning disabilities. Through outreach sessions to day centres and care homes, Whitstable have engaged those facing barriers like transportation issues, support staff limitations or anxiety.
The Marke Wood tennis hub in Walmer got the nod for this year’s parks award.
Following the renovation of four courts in early 2023, the hub, registered with the LTA, attracted more than 355 users. Offering affordable tennis opportunities, coaching initiatives have engaged players from diverse backgrounds, leading to increased participation and the development of tennis volunteers. Through community events, school partnerships, and initiatives like free coaching for Ukrainians, the hub has fostered inclusivity.
Canterbury’s Stephen Woodley has been a tennis stalwart in east Kent for 50 years and was recognised with this year’s Charles Bailey Award for lifetime achievement.
Beyond remarkable playing achievements, including representing Great Britain, Woodley has transformed tennis in east Kent. As a key figure at Canterbury LTC and Polo Farm Sports Club, he spearheaded facility developments, ensuring top-notch courts and establishing indoor facilities.
His leadership has made tennis accessible, hosting programmes for juniors, integrating wheelchair tennis and fostering community engagement. The junior academy thrives at all levels and includes an outreach programme to schools assisted via the “Give it your Max” programme.
The Kent Tennis President’s Award went to Alexander McLeod Primary School in Greenwich and the Cathy Sabin Volunteer-of-the-Year was won by John Ratcliffe of Shooters Hill LTC.
All winners except Player-of-the-Year and Team-of-the-Year go through to the Lawn Tennis Association’s regional awards.