Published: 06:00, 18 February 2021
| Updated: 09:48, 18 February 2021
The Kent Lawn Tennis Association have recruited a new county lead coach - and he has big ambitions.
Craig Allen is no stranger to Kent, having started his tennis and coaching in the Gravesend area at the age of 16. His ambition is to make Kent the leading county in British tennis.
Craig will be working closely with Harriet Izzard to manage the County Training Programme, taking responsibility for the philosophy, the content and delivery of the training sessions, whilst managing the coaching team. He will also be part of the selection process for county teams and preparation for County Cup competitions.
He’s already had a long and successful career in the county, working as head coach at Bexley Tennis Club where he was invited to be involved in the county training programme, supporting the Kent performance coach Clint Harris.
During his time as coach at Bexley the club built a strong reputation as a county training base and was subsequently recognised as a county funded club.
He captained the 13U Kent boys’ team that included Nick Cavaday, Miles Kasiri, Jack Baker and James Langford and played against North of Scotland (that included an 11-year-old Andy Murray) and gained promotion.
The National Champions team in 2013 were James Davis, Nick Brookes, Matt Summers, Jonah Smith, Ethan O’Reilly and Daniel Goodwin, who had an emphatic 4-0 victory over Surrey in the final.
They later became the 14U team and he continued to captain this age group for 20 years, enjoying considerable success with his various teams which have reached the finals on numerous occasions.
He then went onto work at the High Performance Centre based at The Bromley Tennis Centre between 2003 and 2010, where he was very fortunate to work with some of the best players Kent have produced, including many who have represented Great Britain. They included Lewis Burton (junior Wimbledon boys’ doubles runner-up), Sean Thornley, national champion Thomas Wright and Sasha Hill.
In 2010, Craig then went on to run his own successful performance programme for players aged over 11, basing the programme at the Park Langley Tennis Club from 2013, until 2019 when, after 23 years as a loyal, committed and very successful Kent captain and coach he moved on to a role in the LTA’s national performance pathway team as a lead county pathway coordinator for the central and east region.
Accepting his role at Kent LTA, he said: “Having spent my entire coaching career in Kent, I am thrilled to be taking on the role of Kent tennis lead county coach.
“I share the passion and dedication in continuing to bring great success to Kent Tennis. I’m confident that we can strive to find ways to make Kent the leading county in British Tennis.”
He said his favourite years were when the boys and girls teams were at the Finals together. They travelled together, supported each other and had enormous fun.
In the early days, the County Cup was the most important event on any county player’s calendar.
He said: “Most of the year juniors play on their own for themselves, but when they get together for County Cup, many seem to achieve better results than they do for the rest of the year.”