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The Bright Ideas Charity 24 Hour Marathon Event – Blog By Allie!

Bright Ideas of Tennis 24 hour Charity Event – 22/23 February 2019


During the early hours of Saturday morning seven of us were lucky enough to represent Langley Tennis club by taking part in a 24 hour charity tennis event at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton. The event is in its sixth year now and raises around 50-60K each year.

The format of the event is simple. Each year two professional tennis players will play tennis non-stop for a gruelling 24 hours. 12 clubs are then invited to play against them.

This year Marcus Willis and Lucie Ahl stepped up to the challenge. As many of you will know, Marcus is probably best known for his amazing performance at Wimbledon 2016, where he lost but put up a great fight against Federer in the second round. Lucie also enjoyed a successful professional career and for a period was the highest ranked female player in the UK.

Marcus and Lucie were then also supported by a number of ex pros including Danny Sapsford, who some of you will remember put on a brilliant coaching session/exhibition for our club last November.

Langley were scheduled to play between 4am and 8am. This was then split into four one-hour slots with the final pair taking part in a serving competition, which would raise further money for your club based on how many times you could hit a target out of ten serves, with the speed of serve also recorded.

First up and biggest credit definitely goes to Alison, Charlie and Simon Walter, who all left Kings Langley at around 2.30am and were on court warming up an hour later. They all played with/against Lucie Ahl and Alex Slabinsky. Alex was ranked as British Men’s No. 4 between 2008-2009.


The rest of us travelled up the night before and got rooms at the tennis centre. This was great as we were literally sleeping a couple of metres behind the courts. My room took me back to living in student halls, but with the luxury of at least having an en-suite! For some extra inspiration each room had a picture of various tennis stadiums from around the world. The rooms are usually used by players competing at the many competitions held at the National Tennis Centre, which include the Wimbledon qualifiers.

I was too excited to get much sleep but managed around 4 hours of broken sleep and got over to the courts to catch the end of Alison and Simon’s match. Simon and Lucie Ahl took the set 7-6 after a nail biting tiebreak!


Charlie Walter was next up to play with Simon. Both played some great points and I’m sure playing with your son/dad against two pros will be a great memory for both. They also got two games off the pros, which was pretty amazing. I should also mention that Simon managed to ace both Lucie and Alex. In hindsight, we really should have saved Simon for the serving competition!

I then practised with with Sue Banks and Anna Frank as they prepared for their 6am slot. At this point they switched up the pros for the last 2 hours, meaning we were going to get to play with/against Marcus Willis and Danny Sapsford. I’d been secretly hoping to play on the same court as Marcus so this was great news for me!

Anna and Sue both played brilliantly. Anna and Sue played in pretty much every match for the Ladies team last season and are both really committed players. The improvements in their game over the last year have been amazing and I’m so excited to have them in the Ladies’ team as the new season draws closer. It was great to watch them play so well.

Finally I was paired up with Alex Beal. Alex has been at the club for as long as I have and is so committed to Langley that, despite having moved to south London, she still travels to to play at Langley and even played matches whenever she could last season. We play at different times so don’t often get to see each other at Langley so it was especially lovely to catch up and share such a great experience together. I was paired up with Danny and we played a full set against Alex and Marcus. Danny and I took the set 6-3. We then switched partners for another three tight games before the serving competition.

It’s really hard to put into words how enjoyable playing with Danny and Marcus was. My first hope was that I would be able to not waste the opportunity and actually play well. Playing alongside anyone stronger than you generally ups your game and fortunately this was the case for me and Alex. We put everything we had into each point. Neither of us played safe. This approach obviously meant a few errors but also some amazing winning points from us both. These were all met with complements and praise.

Given Marcus had been playing for 19 hours straight and Danny had played around 14 hours without sleep their enthusiasm, support and encouragement was just amazing. They could not have made the experience more fun or rewarding. My only wish would have been to have been able to play longer!

As we shook hands at the net Danny commented that Alex and I were very similar players. He said we both had loads of power, played a high risk game but both played some great shots/rallies and played really well. Marcus agreed and said how much he enjoyed playing with us. I literally could not have felt any happier in that moment (as you can probably see in the photo below!).

The opportunity alone to play with Marcus and Danny would have been brilliant, but the confidence boost their feedback gave, how friendly and welcoming they were, how fun they made it all and getting to share the experience with friends that love tennis as much as I do just made the experience so special.

Alex and I then had to serve 10 times and try to hit over a target as many times as we could. We only managed to do this four times between us both. To be fair, it was harder than it looked and bit pressured with so many people watching! On a positive though, I managed to hit a 85 mph serve, which was the fastest out of the women competing. Alex also had the second fastest serve at 77 mph. Danny also said it would be more accurate to add another 10%. So we can be pretty pleased with our speed if not our accuracy!

Special mention to Danny for organising this great event. It’s a great charity and great event. Essentially its aim is to help more people play tennis and help clubs fulfil the potential of their players. What’s great is that this event is all about giving the clubs taking part the opportunity to raise funds that will directly fund their own club’s chosen projects. This can include improving facilities, buying new equipment and improving the tennis programmes on offer.

For Langley, our aim was to raise enough funds to, among other things, buy a defibrillator for the club and be able to offer more programmes aimed at helping those with disabilities play tennis.

Last but not least, I have to mention Lucie Ahl and Marcus Willis again. Both played the whole event while injured. This meant physios between some of the games and even a quick ice bath for Lucie. Both showed great dedication, great humour and smiles throughout the event and it was a complete honour for us all to share a court with them both.

It’s been a tricky sell to get sponsorship from those outside the club, so I’m reaching out to those who play/parents of players at Langley to ask if you would consider making a donation, however small, to any of the players who took part in the event. I’ve included the links to all our pages below.









Thank you for reading!

Allie Stephenson

Ladies’ Team Captain

‘I have the Tennis bug’ – Sue Banks

I joined Langley Tennis Club in April 2017 prior to my retirement in June 2017 to start lessons as I had not played tennis at all before. I started to have a lesson a week with Dimi and joined in the drill sessions playing 2 to 3 times a week, also playing singles and doubles whenever I can. I have the bug!!

I really enjoy the sport and play whenever I can, also competing in the monthly Round Robin competitions to gain as much experience as I can.
Last season I played for the club in the ladies matches. I was so pleased to play for the club, and it made me realise how far I had come since I started playing in 2017. I am sure that a good part of this was due to Langley Tennis Club being a very friendly club who have excellent coaches, who are encouraging and helpful and for the very friendly atmosphere within the club.

Towards the end of last year, I took part in a coaching session with 2 ex professional tennis players who came to the club to highlight the “Bright Ideas Charity”, it was interesting so I thought I would take part in the tennis marathon being played in February to give something back and raise money for the charity and the club.  On 22nd February it will be early to bed and early to rise for me so that I can do my bit in the marathon as our club session starts at 4am!!!

Thank you to Langley Tennis club for your help and encouragement, I just love playing tennis.

Langley Charity Day – Sue Barnard

Langley’s exhibition match for charity

What a fantastic event! I have been to watch a number of matches between the Langley coaches and other clubs but this time it was different! I pulled into the car park, got out the car and was greeted by a waft of BBQ. What was in store? Through the swivel door and into the clubhouse! Noisy chit chat, kids running around, hustle and bustle, table tennis, foozball and a great sense of feeling part of something exciting that was about to happen. As well as the BBQ there was a Buffet table laid out with all sorts of amazing things to eat. Lisa, Sue and Roz were running around keeping everyone topped up with teas, coffees, hot chocolates and soft drinks.

The mini red players were on court having a fantastic time with Danny Sapsford and Luke Milligan both experienced Davis cup players. My son, Miles who has played at Langley since he was 3 was booked onto the junior yellow ball training session. It was his turn next. Of he went slightly apprehensive and a little nervous. A few minutes in he was in his element. The coaching was amazing. Lots of new drills and match play scenarios were played out. He was one of the younger players on court but he was encouraged to join in with everything and came off at the end beaming.

The exhibition match! Now I had been wondering since booking my ticket how we would get a good view of the match and feel the sense of occasion. Simple! We all went out on court. What a great idea. I think it’s the closest I have ever been to a match being played. First up Andre & Danny against and Michael & Luke. Where do I start? What a match. So much energy and skill! As the ball was played back and forth I looked over at the kids around me they were in absolute awe. Mouths opened and so engrossed in their coaches ability. Somethings they really haven’t seen up that close before. The banter between partners and across the net was cheeky and funny and entertained everyone watching. A second match was then played. Andre & Mikey against Danny & Luke. The Davis cup players took the game ……. but only just. Massive round of applause and cheers to everyone involved at the end followed by photo opportunities with the players.

Nothing more to say other than when is the next one? And I will definitely be there!

Susan Barnard Member March 2012

Club Coach – Harry Clinkscales


It is my turn to write a post for the blog, and I thought it would be prudent for me to write about my experience in joining the club as I am the newest member of the coaching team.

I joined the Langley Tennis family in April 2018, and much like when you join a new school I was slightly nervous about being in a new environment, not knowing anyone and wondering if I would fit in at the club. However I soon found out that I had no need to be nervous as my fellow coaches and work-mates made me feel right at home here at Langley, making my transition from University Tennis to full time coach a smooth and enjoyable one, and before long I was cracking jokes and being myself. I am also grateful to the members at Langley who have embraced me and quickly made me feel like I have been at the club for years as opposed to the short period in which I have actually been here.

The stand-out feature for me at Langley Tennis Club that I can write about based on the experience that I have had is the welcoming and friendly atmosphere that exists at the club that is fostered by both the members and the staff, which truly makes anyone feel comfortable and able to be themselves. This was important to me as the fear of leaving the comfort of University life and having to enter the real world and become a functioning member of adult society was indeed a daunting one, but I can say with full confidence and meaning that I wholeheartedly enjoy my role at Langley Tennis Club and that I am grateful for the opportunity that I have been given.

I would like to end this post in the most ridiculously sappy manner, and again express my thanks to both my colleagues and the members of the club for making me feel at home and putting up with my somewhat strange sense of humour.

Harry Clinkscales

Club Coach

Allie Ladies Captain

So I wanted to share with you all my own experience of being both a club member and captain of the Ladies’ team at Langley.

It was my brother (a tennis coach) who recommended Langley to me as I was looking to get my then 2 year old into tennis and he used to play tennis with one of the coaches there.
Heavily pregnant at the time with my second boy I would watch Jude play toddler tennis on a Wednesday afternoon, while chatting to the other mum’s. Two of the mum’s played regularly and got me thinking about playing myself. Encouraged by Sue and Sarah, two months after my Gabriel was born, I signed up for a free introductory lesson.

Back then the club was run by Tim Walters. Tim is an incredibly talented coach. He was full of charisma, extremely dedicated and was really instrumental in making the club the success it is today. I fell in love with tennis instantly. From that point on, unless on holiday or unwell, I have pretty much played at least twice a week for over 6 years.

Now I’d played tennis as a child, but I’d never had a tennis lesson and certainly didn’t have the raw talent of younger brother. It had been more a case of heading down to the local park with friends. So, in short, I was pretty much a beginner and quickly realised how little I knew about tennis. I was, however, hugely dedicated and I would literally count down the days until I would next be playing in drills or having a lesson with Matt (my first coach, who is not only a great coach but also a great drinking buddy on a night out and is really missed following his move to Oz).

About a year after joining, the club wanted to set up a mixed doubles team and I was asked to captain it. This was a totally new experience for me. I’d never played in a team for any sport, even at school (I’m not going to count playing in the netball team at primary school). It was therefore a pretty steep learning curve, but one I enjoyed, despite the stress of finding a team each week and constantly checking the weather! I was truly rubbish back then but I was lucky enough to have a fantastic partner in Julius (if you watch Holby City, he plays Jason). Jules was incredibly patient with me, is a brilliant player and was great fun to be around. One of my best memories is still our first win of the season. It was against Moor Park, it was a gorgeous evening and it was my first ever time playing on grass courts. What better way to spend a Tuesday night!

The following season I joined the Ladies team. We had a fabulous captain in Fabiola and got promoted two seasons in a row. The feeling of contributing to a team win is incredible and we shared some great memories as a team. Fabs was married to Tim and it was sad day for me when they both left for Australia.

Stepping into Tim’s shoes would not be an easy feat for anyone but Andre (our Director of Tennis) has done this with ease and it’s been a pleasure seeing him and his family continue to take the club forward. You literally could not meet a nicer family and they are so dedicated to their club, as are Roz, Sue and all the coaches, who each play a massive part in making Langley the great club it is. I spend hours each week at the club and it’s become like a second home over the years. I play every Wednesday night in Ladies’ drills (sometimes Thursday and Friday night too), my sons (aged 6 and 9) play Saturday morning and I also have also private lesson most weekends. During April and August we play matches on a Tuesday night and I also regularly play in the round robin tournaments organised by the club. And when I’m not playing tennis I’m often talking about tennis or watching it.

My coach Dimitris is incredible. He’s been my coach for nearly two years. His knowledge of tennis is amazing and he has pushed me in all areas of my game and I am now playing at a level I am really proud of when I think of where I started. He is also one of the nicest people I have ever met.

My boys are coached by Lewis and they both idolise him. He makes them laugh, encourages them and I put their long awaited love of tennis (to my utter joy!) 100% down to Lewis.

I also now have the pleasure of being captain of the Ladies team following Fabiola’s move to Oz. Andre doesn’t know this but he actually called me on my birthday to ask if I wanted to be captain. That call really meant so much to me and I may have shed a tear or two! Becoming captain has come with some challenges, not least losing Fabiola as a player. She was easily one of the best players in the league and you could pretty much guarantee she’d win her three sets, whoever she was playing with (even me!), meaning just a couple sets were needed from the other two pairs to get a win. We also lost some really strong players through injury/moving out the area too etc. and so I found myself having to pretty much build a team from scratch, most of who would be playing their first ever competitive match. You can’t underestimate how nerve-wracking this can be, especially when you playing really established teams who have been playing doubles for years, as well as facing the odd unpleasant opponent, although fortunately this is very much the exception! So it’s been a tough couple of seasons for the team and we have been just relegated for the second season in a row!

So this might all sound quite negative but it’s actually been the opposite. I could not ask more from my team. Despite not winning a single match this season we have laughed together, supported each other through some heartbreaking tie break losses/lost match points, praised each other and never once given up. Most importantly, we have enjoyed every minute. And this is because we all love tennis beyond words. We are improving all the time and I have no doubt that our time will come and we will see all our commitment and hard work pay off. When this moment comes it’s going to be so well deserved and so special.

Another highlight for me this year has been spending Sunday afternoons watching the coaches play their league matches. This really is tennis on another level and it’s been so exciting to watch and cheer them on with their family and friends.

It’s really hard to put into words how much my club means to me. Tennis has become such a huge part of my life thanks to Langley. Bottom line is that It just makes me so happy. The stresses of work and life disappear the second you step on to court. The facilities are amazing. The atmosphere is always welcoming. There is also so much to learn in tennis and it’s such a rewarding experience to feel your technique and game improve, that moment when something just clicks after months of trying or you just hit the perfect shot. I have met so many lovely people, made some really close friends over my six years at the club. That feeling of pure enjoyment when I play tennis is also just as strong now as it was six years ago when I decided to take that first lesson and realised I’d found something I never wanted to stop doing.

Welcome to Langley’s first ever Blog!

I am privileged to be making the first blog entry for Langley Tennis, we have decided to give everyone a more personal look at our club and felt the best way to achieve this was to get staff, coaches and members to create blogs.

I first came to Langley when my son Matthew decided he would like to start playing tennis that was 13 years ago and I’m still here but not as a parent but as Langley’s Manager a job I love. It’s a privilege to watch young children hit their first ball, watch them develop and grow as tennis players and human beings. The joy the players feel when they win their first tennis match I share along with them, watching them compete in tournaments in a mature sporting way, makes me feel proud that in some little way I have contributed to that players personal and tennis development.

In my years here at Langley I have seen some great coaches come and go. The great Tim Walter along with his Aussie counterpart Ryan Henry who are both now extremely successful running tennis clubs in Australia. Matt Barton who came to Langley as a young 18 year old and who I witnessed transform into a very professional and caring club coach and who has now joined Tim Walter in Australia and is sorely missed here at Langley. As great as these coaches are we have a new diverse coaching team here at Langley headed by Andre Mouskides one of the best coaches I have had the pleasure of working alongside. Our Greek wizard Dimitris is an amazing coach, giving clients technical information second to none. Michael is the most improved player at the club, I have watched him train and put every ounce of effort he has into improving his tennis game and as a coach is a role model to younger players on work ethic and dedication. Harry gives the coaching team character, a truly nice guy with the driest sense of humour I have come across, who loves tennis and makes every player believe they can improve and finally Lewis the baby of the family, he has been here at Langley as a player from the age of 4 and is just starting out on his coaching career.

Finally I must mention Langley’s lovely receptionist Roz, she is a great help to me and creates a lovely atmosphere in the club house. If you haven’t spoken to her please introduce yourself she is warm and friendly and will always give you great information about the club and the opportunities to play tennis here.

I’m looking forward to writing many more blogs on life at Langley Tennis Club and if anyone would like to contribute on their experience at the club we would love to hear from you and publish your thoughts.

Sue Picton

Langley Club Manager

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