Aberdare Tennis Club
The Aberdare Tennis Club was formed in 1989 when Malcolm Evans and Elfed Bowen, (two former members of the old Aberdare Town Tennis Club), decided to try to reintroduce club tennis to the Aberdare area.
In the late fifties and sixties, there were two flourishing tennis clubs in existence in the Aberdare area, both having teams in the first division of the Welsh League. Aberaman Tennis Club was first to fold with many of its best players transferring to Aberdare Town Tennis Club, a private club where there were three lawn and two hard courts. This Club eventually shut down in the early seventies and there was no tennis club in the Aberdare area until the present Aberdare Tennis Club was formed in 1989, based on public tennis courts at Aberdare Park.
In its initial year there were 11 adult members and 31 juniors with just two macadam tennis courts. Thankfully, another tennis court was constructed the following season, enabling more members to play. Through the winter months, Aberdare Tennis Club played indoors at the Michael Sobell Sports Centre in Aberdare. The Club attracted around 50 members a season in the early years, but it was not until 1993 that the Club affiliated to the South Wales LTA and entered a Men's Team in the South Wales Doubles League.
Membership numbers fluctuated dramatically from year to year and the Club found it difficult to field a team of six men on a regular basis. In 1998 a men's side competed in the South Wales Mid-Week League. This made things easier since only two pairs were needed in this competition. The Club has also entered a Men's team in the Summer Doubles League, and has previously entered a Men's Side and a Mixed Team in the Tennis Wales South run Cymru Kitchens Autumn Doubles League, (later called the Winter League).
The Aberdare Club doesn?t focus all it's attention on Team Tennis, and tries to cater for the needs of all members. The Nestle's Ladder Competition for the under 17's has proved very popular over the years with trophies, prizes and certificates being awarded at the Club's Awards Day, held at the end of each season. Our young Nestle's Champions have played the champions of other clubs in the Nestle Knockout competition and have been quite successful over the years. Gareth Williams, an excellent left-hander, defeated a player in this competition, who went on to play for Wales. Our juniors also competed in the South Wales Junior League for two seasons and the experience gained in this competition, allowed some of our juniors to gain places in the senior side. The Penn Junior League replaced this League, with two boys and two girls representing the Club. Unfortunately, after one season in this league, the Club was forced to drop out of the competition because they didn't have two girls who were willing to compete.
The Club has enjoyed End-of-Season functions at the Welsh National Tennis Centre. This comprised a game of indoor Tennis, followed by a dip in the palatial indoor swimming pool, with the evening culminating in a fine chef-prepared meal. These events provided members with a memorable end to the season. A few years ago the Aberdare Club was granted a Sportslott Award, and this allowed one of our members, Helen Williams, to train as a DCA Tennis Coach. It also funded the necessary coaching equipment, and allowed Tennis Taster Evenings to be held, to attract more female and junior members to the club. It is with regret though that Helen has since moved on from the club but it is hoped that funding can be found to develop and train a new coach or help towards the hiring of a qualified coach.
A number of our members have competed in LTA Tournaments and won their Division. Richard Smart was the most successful tournament player in the history of the club. He won his division in the Glynneath Tournament in his first season of competitive play, and won the South Wales Closed tournament, in three separate divisions. He defeated three players, who have since played tennis for Wales, on his way to becoming champion. In a tournament in Leominster he defeated the two tournament favourites, one of whom was the Gloucestershire champion. He has also beaten current Welsh champions. A number of years ago, Leah Jones represented East Wales in a triangular event against other counties. We hope that other members will follow their fine example.
Some of the equipment we have purchased includes a Rebound Net that acts as a wall for one person play, a Rebound Ball that lets one or two players hit the ball over the net which due to the elastic string returns the ball to you and a Radar Gun which measures the speed of a player's service.
Aberdare Tennis Club is attracting and retaining members and the numbers are far greater that in other vally clubs and it has come a long way since it's modest beginnings and looks set for a successfull future.