Yesterday afternoon, Cranleigh’s junior tennis players were treated to a feast of top quality coaching. Presiding over the session was Dan Bloxham, Head Coach of the All England Club, and Johnny Barr, ex-Scottish international and parent. After some quick introductions, the 40 or so boys and girls in attendance were galvanised into action – performing a series of energetic routines, after high intensity demo’s from Dan himself.
There was no rest for the players, with the coaches demanding excellence and 100% effort in every aspect of their endeavour. The session then focused on volleys, using the quick fire aspect to fully engage the pupils into their split-step and quick racket work. With expert encouragement from the coaches and Cranleigh staff present it was time to move to the back of the court, where Dan emphasised the Tim Henman mantra on ‘practice makes permanent’ – a reminder that to be able to play high quality tennis in matches, it is necessary to train at that level too.
Finally, the pupils were encouraged to think about their doubles strategy work with an enjoyable drill involving all four players simulating rallies, with the two net players focused on their aggressive and defensive positions throughout the point, and looking to intercept and hit the winner when the time was right. After saying goodbye to the Fourth Formers who had to rush off to their Outdoor Ed pursuits, the Lower Fifth players were more than happy to stay on to complete the drill.
The pupils were given the chance to ask Dan about his role at Wimbledon, where he provided some fascinating insights into what happens behind the scenes at one of the greatest sporting events in the world. As the pupils left, Johnny reminded them about the Cranleigh Grass Court Tennis Festival tournament, which is happening once again this summer after a highly successful launch last year where it was voted ‘Best Tournament in Surrey, South East of England and the whole of the UK in 2017’. Indeed with everything the pupils had learnt from this session, surely it will be Cranleigh School pupils who will be inspired to clean-up the silver-ware come the finals-day on August 11th, won’t it?!
Huge thanks to Dan Bloxham and Johnny Barr for giving up their time to inspire and improve our next generation of Cranleigh tennis players.