The future of the historic sport of real tennis is being driven by a group of dedicated supporters known collectively as the Dedanists’ Foundation.
The group’s aim is to increase young people’s involvement in a sport which fails to get mainstream exposure.
And former Seacourt head professional Dan Jones – a development officer at the Dedanists – is intent on growing the sport after having spent 25 years as a professional in the game.
‘Real tennis has been so fantastic to me,’ said Jones.
‘As a professional I travelled the world playing this game, so now it’s time to try to give something back and create the next generation of players.
‘I’m trying to make sure that real tennis keeps up with the times and creates as many opportunities as possible for children to play because it is a fantastic sport.’
Jones is using his 12 years of experience as head pro at Seacourt, Hayling Island, to travel the country and train real tennis enthusiasts.
‘I’ve been all over the place in the last six or seven months trying to encourage clubs to design a bespoke junior programme,’ he said.
‘The goal is to make sure that all clubs are looking after the future of the sport.
‘That is where the Dedanists’ Foundation have been so brilliant.
‘They recognise that clubs around the country need support and raise money to reinvest back in to them.’
Jones begins work as head professional at Wellington College’s new real tennis facility in two months and sees his role at the Berkshire school as an opportunity to evolve the sport.
One beneficiary of Jones’ expertise is professional player and Hayling Islander Bryn Sayers, who won the British Open and the US Open singles titles in 2012.
The 30-year-old is currently ranked fifth in the world and works as the senior professional at The Queen’s Club.
Jones believes many more can follow in his footsteps.
‘He’s a direct result of going through the junior programme and has gone on to achieve great things,’ added Jones.
‘Now the goal is to look after the future of real tennis and make sure that all the knowledge I’ve gained in 25 years of playing and coaching is passed on.’
– BARNEY KELLAWAY