Chairman’s Report 2015
Thank you to John Hall for his Coaching Report and thank you to Aran Mustafa and Isabelle Ridgewell, in absentia, for the respective scripts and reports that they have prepared.
I will start by saying that it has been a good year for the Club and this has been due to all of the members, and of course the Committee. There have been many highlights, which I will mention in due course. There has been a great deal of activity, both on the Courts and some enjoyable Social Events, for which I offer sincerest thanks.
It is an honour to be your Chairman and to oversee the work of the Committee - and to have served as such for the last year in the role. Thanks must go to my predecessor, David Tomlinson, not only for the dedication that he gave to the Club in his three years as Chairman, but also for the kind assistance and encouragement he gave at the outset to ensure a smooth transition to a new Committee. This is a tennis club that was founded and flourishes on the basis of voluntary work and the kind assistance that volunteers provide to the Club and committee. Thank you to those people and to the Committee that have served for the last year, they are paramount to the continued success of the club in its current form. I believe that we have a strong team on the Committee, one that is focused on progressing the Club and improving the Facility and service it provides to its members. I again give thanks to those that have agreed to stand and serve for the coming year.
Finance and membership
Thank you for the clear and concise report prepared by Isabelle and Judy and the considerable work undertaken throughout the year. While not a wealthy tennis club by any stretch of the imagination, our finances have been carefully managed and remain in a healthy state under the stewardship of Isabelle and the committee. Thank you to George Panayi, the previous incumbent of the role also for helping to prepare our yearly finance report. Our membership base continues to be the bulk of our annual income and, it is important that our membership retention remains a priority, as well as continuing to focus on ways to attract new members. It is pleasing that income from membership fees continues to show an upward increase.
The committee considered the possibility of changing the club’s status from CASC status to that of a Charity, in order to gain a greater potential monetary sum from Gift Aid. The notable failure of Radlett Tennis Club in this regard and the problems they ran into with the Charity’s Commission - tied in with other reasons including the fact that few tennis clubs have opted to go down this route - has resulted in a lack of fervour to make further consideration of this proposal.
The committee are focused on improving the club facilities towards the long-term and bringing them up to a better standard for members. This of course will involve expenditure by the club and ensuring that it operates within our means and acts prudently in this regard. Both the clubhouse and the courts will be improved over time to make the overall package on offer more appealing to both current and prospective new members. In order for the club to continue to prosper into the future, this must remain high up on the club’s Agenda. The LTA ‘members-to-tennis court facilities ratio shows Barnet as having the capacity to comfortably cater for 420 members. In order to go towards achieving a higher number of members, we must remain focused not only on the facilities and the service we provide to members, but also marketing for new members. There is the possibility of a membership referral scheme, if it can be devised and implemented correctly.
You will note that our David Tomlinson mentioned at last year’s AGM that following the decision of the Council not to sell a long-term lease to the Club, the matter was referred to the Local Ombudsman and that he would continue to oversee the complaints process . The Ombudsman’s final decision was reported to the Club early this year, which found that ‘without evidence of significant fault by the Council which has caused injustice to the Club, the Ombudsman will not pursue the matter any further’. This is where the matter was left, and it was felt that the matter was essentially closed with further redress of the complaint very difficult. As a result, the emphasis of the Club’s improvement works must be tempered and balanced against the fact that the club has less than 20 years remaining on its current lease with the Council, though that is not to say by any means that it will not be renewed.
Maintenance and improvement works
We continue to ensure that maintenance remain high on the agenda of the club committee, both on and off the court. Martin Dawson has performed diligently in the role as new Maintenance Manager, backed up by the club’s wonderful members and volunteers whenever called upon. We have been active on this front and Martin is right to comically refer to the role as a glutton for punishment on occasion and he has the club’s sympathy in this unenviable role. We must give special thanks and mention to Bob Price for being ready to assist and help Martin and the club when required.
Over the course of the past year, a number of maintenance matters have been successfully dealt with. We have organised a working party that successfully cleared the black crumb from the cage court. Soon after, we commissioned an LTA approved tennis company, Fosse, to carry out necessary maintenance works to the courts. This included re-application of green crumb to the astro-clay courts, an expenditure in the region of £5,000. New tennis wind-breaker shields were installed, as were new tennis nets. A new bar shutter has also been installed after the old one was broken and new clubhouse windows were fitted, which enables better viewing of the tennis courts from that particular vantage point and throws more light into the clubhouse. We have acquired a new club barbecue, new coffee machine for members’ use, new freezer to replace the defunct old fridge, a new glass washer recently, and ‘dummy’ birds of prey have been mounted on the tennis fences as a pest deterrent.
I can assure the members that it is a matter of priority for the committee to refurbish the toilets and changing rooms - and we are in the process of securing quotations from builders for works to begin in the coming months, over the Winter time. We hope that the works will cause minimum disruption to members, which will improve the facility for the long-run.
The committee are intent on improving the facilities towards the long-term and bring them up to a better standard for members. Both the clubhouse and the courts will be improved over time to make the overall package on offer more appealing to both current and prospective new members.
The role of Bar Manager is one that has remained vacant for some years. In addition to the role that Sheila has performed as Club Secretary, the management of the Bar (and all that it entails) has largely been fulfilled by Sheila Rice, a long-standing member of the committee. My predecessor informed me that Sheila was an ‘unsung hero’ of the Club committee and I can only echo the sentiment expressed in that statement. The time and efforts Sheila has given to the Club over the last year has not gone unnoticed by myself, the Committee or the Club’s members and I would like to express my gratitude to her. It appears that Sheila will be fulfilling this particular committee role on a permanent basis now and I am sure she will continue to excel in the role. It is a role that remains vital to the social side of the club and I can anticipate that the club will be the better for it.
The club continues to show sport on the large-screen TV and we hope that BT Sport securing exclusive Champions League football rights in addition to Premier League football match rights will prove popular with members in the Bar area. It may act as a halfway measure those members who would like to see Sky Sports; which is not viable for the club to show in our particular commercial environment as it is too cost-prohibitive.
I am pleased to report that our search for a Social Manager appears to be at an end. This is an important role and one that has remained vacant for too long. I wish our new incoming Social Secretary, Linda Searles, the best of luck ahead and I hope that this particular role is one that she will enjoy and find good support from our fellow members. I would like to pass on particular thanks and gratitude to Martin Dawson and Alex Lake for their excellent Quiz Nights and Wine Evenings respectively.
Club Website, Publicity and Communications
Jackie Czuprynksi has taken on the role of the club’s newsletter since the early part of the year; the newsletter has been circulated to club members on a monthly basis and proven popular with the club’s members. With Jackie understood to be taking on the role of Club Secretary in the coming year, it is likely that the responsibility of writing the newsletter will pass onto someone else.
The club has been very active in notifying members via email of club activities, tennis and non-tennis related when appropriate. We will look to continue this for the coming year and keep members up-to-speed regarding competitions and other matters.
In keeping up with social media and today’s technology, the club’s dedicated Facebook page has also proven a useful tool in making notifications to members where necessary, as well as continuing to foster a sense of community for the club’s members. The Facebook group page continues to be a useful outlet in bringing members together online.
Sincere thanks must go to Geoff Arnett and our website administrators for their continued dedication to the Club Website, which is effectively our ‘window’ to the world as a tennis club. I believe it tobe an essential tool for the Club in many ways. We have again seen the website tinkered with to attractive, professional and functional for our purposes. In addition, we have had dedicated website pages built for the Great British Tennis Weekends and the LTA Lofty Lofts tournament.
Coaching and Competitions
We have had the Coaching Report from John already. It is worth re-emphasising that the club continues to do well in both in its its coaching and competitions element. The coaching programme led by John Hall attracts good numbers of Juniors from the local area and this is healthy for the long term prospects of the Club going forward.
‘Competitions’ at the club is also an important aspect of club life and I am happy that John, with his long-standing tenure and experience in the role, continues to perform the role as Competitions Manager. The two club tournaments that were held in the Summer and Autumn were again successful and Finals Days were well attended and the matches memorable, with a record 17 finals having taken place last weekend. Thank you to the volunteers on the day and those that brought dishes.
The club held the LTA Lofty Lofts Tournament for the second straight year and it goes from strength to strength-to-strength. I am pleased that one of own team players, not least our Men’s Captain, was able to win the Mens Singles Open draw. I understand that this is the first time that this particular draw event has been held at the club, at least for many years. Thanks must go to the band of volunteers who made holding the tournament possible, including our own Club President, Sylvia Stewart who we wish well in her rehabilitation from recent surgery.
LTA and Great British tennis Weekends
It was a pleasure to bring our former chair lady, Jackie Czuprynski back on to the Committee in a newly identified and devised role of LTA Liaison Officer. As a tennis club that operates under the guidance and umbrella of the LTA, it is a committee role that has allowed for a greater scope and identification of areas in which we can seek improvements in how the tennis club operates. Having an individual in this dedicated capacity has been of benefit to the committee. Ideas and initiatives from the LTA have been evaluated and reviewed for possible adoption by the Club. In addition to the LTA ‘ClubMark’ status that was awarded to the club some years ago (and will continue to stand in place), I am pleased to report it is now highly likely that our tennis club will be awarded Tennis Mark status near the end of this month. The new accreditation scheme is an important one, one that that recognises good standards and best practice at tennis venues in Britain.
The club was largely successful in publicising and making members aware of the new LTA ‘opt-in’ procedures, now demanded by the LTA as a prerequisite of eligibility for Wimbledon tickets in the Club Ballot. I am pleased to report that given this change in procedure that requires members to be proactive, the notifications to members seemed to work and the allocation of tickets by the AELTC remained largely the same.
The Great British Tennis Weekends, held for the very first time at the Club on the weekend of 16th/17th May and on Saturday 13th June, were well attended and popular events brought to the Club. They proved to be adequate replacements (and a viable alternative for the future) to the traditional Open Days held at the club in past years, resulting in new sign-ups to the membership base and to the club’s coaching programme. The organisation at the club and its GBTW activities was very good. There was a nice buzz and atmosphere to the club with so many people and families attending from the local community – and I felt we ‘showcased’ the club well to visitors. Thank you to Jackie, the coaching staff and all the volunteers for their wonderful efforts on the days. A great deal of hard work was also undertaken behind the scenes by a sub-committee to ensure that the events were both well publicised and well run.
Finally, I would like to thank all those who have supported me during the past year and made the job a pleasure and a privilege. I look forward to an even better year ahead, one where we hope to continue to progress the agenda of the club; make improvements for the benefits of its members and continue the friendly and welcoming atmosphere that makes the club appealing.