SEACOURT’s real tennis youngsters have been praised for lifting the prestigious Peter Luck-Hille trophy but were soon warned: Don’t drop it!
Head coach Dan Jones cut a proud figure as he watched son Max and team-mates William Flynn, Huw Thomas and Elliott Cotton win the inaugural Dedanists Foundation Cup in Colchester.
But when the victorious Hayling Island junior side were presented their prize by tournament sponsor Luck-Hille himself, Jones senior, who is now departing the club to work for the Dedanists Foundation, admitted his viewing discomfort as the quartet partied with the £2,500 showpiece.
He said: ‘I am over the moon with the boys’ achievement.
‘I am now leaving Seacourt to go to work for the Dedanists Foundation.
‘It is a grant-giving charity created with the sole aim of increasing youth involvement in real tennis, and I will be off at other clubs up and down the country setting up junior programmes.
‘So it is lovely that I can finish on a really high note – especially after the great season we have had.
‘All of the juniors have played really well and worked well as a team – they, like me, were all over the moon.
‘Peter Luck-Hille sponsored the cup, which is named after him, and put together a £2,500 trophy for the juniors.
‘When it was presented I was really nervous that one of them might drop it!
‘They were imitating Rafa Nadal and biting it and putting it above there heads – I couldn’t watch I was so uncomfortable!’
Throughout this season, junior teams from five clubs – Hampton Court, Petworth, Radley, Prested Hall and Seacourt – have been competing in a series of interclub handicap matches.
The top three teams – Seacourt, Radley and Prested Hall – qualified through to finals day, with the latter enjoying home advantage.
The morning match between Radley and Prested Hall determined who would go forward to play league winners Seacourt in the final.
And in a close-run thing, it was the hosts who came back from a poor start to level the match at 4-4 and win through on game difference only.
Seacourt, who had lost to Prested Hall earlier in the season, made an excellent start in the final and managed to keep up the pressure throughout, enjoying a superb 6-2 triumph.
For Jones senior, it was a fitting way to become inaugural champions.
He said: ‘It’s really cool because it is the first ever tournament of its type and for Seacourt to get to the final confirms they are one of the leading clubs in the country.
‘When the boys played Prested Hall in the round-robin league format earlier in the year they beat Seacourt 6-2, quite comfortably.
‘So just in that short period of time the juniors have gone up another level and raised the bar.’