Market Harborough Lawn Tennis Club is celebrating serving up a brilliant new £300,000 clubhouse after an epic 10-year crusade – just as Wimbledon fortnight sparks back into action.
Lesley Paris made it her own personal mission to replace the Great Bowden-based club’s ageing headquarters when she was elected chair back in November 2011.
And almost a decade on she has finally won her formidable challenge game, set and match as she saluted the “fantastic team” who have backed her up to the hilt.
“It’s just sensational that we have got our amazing new clubhouse after such a long time battling to get this over the line.
“We’ve had an unforgettable weekend opening and unveiling our new HQ in Great Bowden.
“And it couldn’t be more timely or appropriate because we can all sit back and enjoy the world’s best players light up Wimbledon now for the next fortnight,” smiled proud Lesley, of Market Harborough.
The tennis club stalwart, still a keen player herself, was thrilled after persuading former top professionals Marcus Willis and Danny Sapsford to cap an exciting weekend by visiting them on Sunday.
Although primarily a doubles specialist, Willis won the nation’s hearts when he cheekily lobbed Wimbledon legend Roger Federer in their singles showdown on Centre Court in June 2016.
“Marcus and Danny were both absolutely first class.
“They’re both busy people but they came along to do three hours of coaching for free,” said Lesley.
“Our youngsters thought it was just awesome.
“Everyone who played with them trooped off the court with a massive smile on their face.
“Marcus and Danny also played out an exhibition match with our club coach and men’s champion – and it was just a hoot.
“They really did put the icing on the cake on a fabulous festival of tennis fun which lasted right across the weekend.”
She paid tribute to leading local architect Richard Norwood for producing an inspirational “forward-looking design”.
“We desperately needed a new clubhouse and new facilities because the old one was falling apart.
“Harborough council have helped us to fund this game-changing new venture while FCC Environment, Market Harborough and the Bowdens Charity and Severn Trent Water have also been very supportive.
“So many local companies and organisations have got behind us, we’re ever so grateful,” said Lesley, whose beloved club has about 350 members.
“But this has been an immense team effort at our club.
“There’s no way I could have achieved this without having a whole host of enthusiastic, energetic people backing me up.
“There’s still a common perception out there that tennis clubs are elite and snooty.
“Well I can tell you that we are anything but.
“We are thriving, we are dynamic – and above all we are inclusive,” said Lesley.
“Everybody is welcome here, we’re a genuine full-on community club.”
If you would like to find out much more about Market Harborough Lawn Tennis Club, you can visit the club’s website at: https://clubspark.lta.org.uk/MarketHarboroughLawnTennisClub