The great and good of British tennis gathered at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre this week as the sport paid homage to inspirational figures that have made a difference in 2022.
The ceremony was hosted by LTA President Sandi Procter and presented by Leon Smith OBE, with several high-profile guests in attendance, including Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester.
While a raft of big-name sports and TV personalities, including Natasha Kaplinsky, Judy Murray, Sir Trevor McDonald, Lucy Shuker, Jeremy Bates, and Roger Taylor, presenting prizes to those in attendance.
The LTA Tennis Awards highlights the vital work of tennis volunteers, coaches, officials, and players across Britain, with as many as 2,500 nominations received each year.
After breaking into the top 100 in the world for the first time, Harriet Dart was named Women’s Player of the Year, while Cameron Norrie received the men’s prize after reaching his first Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon.
And LTA President Sandi Procter was as impressed by the selfless sacrifice of the officials, volunteers, and coaches off the court as she was by the exploits of Britain’s elite tennis players on it.
“I found the whole day and award process quite emotional,” she said. “The inspirational personalities behind the awards, and for all that they do is unbelievable.
“It just brought tears to your eyes when I listened to all those stories. It’s so heartwarming, all of it is wonderful.”
Joe Salisbury won Doubles Player of the Year after a history-making 2022, with the 31-year-old becoming the first British doubles champion at the Nitto ATP Tour Finals last year, also defending his US Open men’s doubles title alongside partner Rajeev Ram.
Mum Carolyn collected the award on his behalf and said: “It was his best year so far. He’s worked incredibly hard to get two Masters’ titles and then to win back-to-back US Opens.
“And then to top the year in Turin at the Tour Finals was phenomenal. And it is just wonderful that they’ve worked so hard for this and to see their efforts have rewards is great.”
Alfie Hewett was named Wheelchair Player of the Year after a stellar 2022.
The 25-year-old won a tenth consecutive major alongside doubles partner Gordon Reid, winning their third Australian Open and French Open titles.
The latter Grand Slam win saw the duo become the most successful men’s wheelchair doubles partnership in Roland Garros history.
“It will mean a lot to Alfie to win this award,” his coach Craig Allen said. “Because he works hard.
“He’s professional and he leaves no stone unturned with his development, and just trying to find that little bit extra, whether it’s in the gym or on the practice court or in scouting opponents.
“So, this is a nice award for him just to cap off what was a great year for him and nice for it to be acknowledged.”
Les Mellor was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award for over five decades of hard work at Brentwood Tennis Club.
Essex tennis stalwart, Mellor, was rewarded for 52 years of service to Brentwood Tennis Club, with the Bolton-raised Level 4 coach having taught in schools, introduced Padel to the club and managed the ClubSpark booking system to name but a few of his remarkable contributions.
“I am very proud because it is not something you seek,” he said. “I am a level four coach and I firmly believe that if you want something doing, if something doesn’t work then you have to find a way to change it.
“That is why I have been involved in so many areas. I have also thought that if you don’t catch them when they are young, you never will.
“So, I focus less on the performance side, my aim is to get the largest number of people into the largest number of groups that I can.
“I am very enthusiastic about getting kids to come and try it, but I want them to be able to progress in their own time and at their own pace.
“I always make sure they want to come back next week, that is the secret I think.”
Kelly Rask won the Official of the Year prize, and she hopes her accolade can inspire more women to stay in the umpire’s chair while starting a family.
Rask officiated the Wimbledon semi-final between Simona Halep and Elena Rybakina in 2022, but the most exciting moment of her year came eight months ago when she found out she would be having a baby this August.
“I think I am only the fourth woman who has had a baby while working full time, so it is quite a novelty,” she said. “It is tough, my husband is also an umpire as well, so we are managing to mix it.
“The thing is I think it is important to show that if you are a female, you can still have a family, and you can still do this job. I feel like that is an important message to send to everybody.”
James Trotman was recognised with the Performance Coach of the Year prize for his game-changing work with Jack Draper, helping him grow as a person and a player.
Trotman has overseen the British no.4’s remarkable rise from an ATP ranking of 265 to a year-end ranking of 42 after four wins on the ATP Challenger Tour, a quarter-final appearance at the Montreal master’s Series and a semi-final outing at LTA’s Rothesay International Eastbourne.
“I am lucky to work with a fantastic player in Jack Draper,” he said. “I think it is amazing and anybody who works in high-performance sports will tell you that we feel incredibly lucky and privileged to help these young athletes on their journey and to grow as people and as tennis players.”
Alessia Palmieri picked up Development Coach of the Year after revolutionising Fossoway Tennis Club, while the University of Exeter was named University of the Year having built the largest university tennis programme in Britain.
Club captains Gabe Kennedy and Georgia Price were in attendance to receive the award, and they believe that increased accessibility has been the key to the club’s success.
“I think there is a really accessible membership price,” said Price. “It is £100 for the year and with that, you get all those sessions on offer.
“It is just very accessible, there is free equipment for the students to use and the coaches are always there putting in the hours every week. It is a huge achievement; we were quite shocked to receive it.”
The North School in Kent won School of the Year despite having no organised tennis programme just two years ago and Oliver Bonding represented the under-18s by picking up Boy’s Player of the Year.
Ella McDonald was the winner of the Girl’s Player of the Year, with Wheelchair Junior of the Year going to Ben Bartram for the second successive year.
After proving herself instrumental in everything that happens within both The Shrewsbury Club & Tennis Shropshire, Amy Dannatt claimed the Rising Star of the Year Award.
“I am really proud and really happy that all my hard work has paid off and it is really nice to win,” said Dannatt. “I have refereeing events around the midlands, and I have just been running lots of tournaments and sessions.
“Tennis Shropshire is a really supportive community and it is really nice to be part of something so supportive so locally to me. It shows that there is so many exciting options and events going on and that will hopefully continue moving forward.”
Premier Tennis at Florence Park in Oxfordshire won Park Venue of the Year, Carolle and Iman were recognised for making tennis more inclusive with the Tennis for All award.
Set up by Birmingham residents Iman Mahmood and Carolle Ford Garcia, the pilot programme attracted 70 new women to tennis in 2022 with 70% coming from non-white ethnic backgrounds. And Mahmood believes that Carolle and Iman has shown that tennis is for everyone.
“We are really proud that our members have been able to show that tennis is for everyone,” she said.
“We want to advertise that to encourage people, word of mouth is really important in our programme.
“A lot of the women bring along their mothers or their sisters or their friends, a lot of people have brought along their mothers-in-law, so we have had all sorts.
“I think that community aspects of spreading the word and showing that tennis for everyone is really important.
Tia Norton followed up her 2022 FIP Rise London Padel Open triumph by winning the Women’s Padel Player of the Year, while Christian Medina Murphy took home the men’s prize.
Senior Men’s Player of the Year was awarded to Sebastian Jackson and Michelle Oldham was named Senior Women of the Year.
The 2023 LTA Tennis Awards’ Club of the Year for 2023 went to East Bergholt.
The Suffolk club have gone from having only 22 members in 2020 to becoming a hub of activity with almost 300 members and eight club teams.
“It is phenomenal,” East Bergholt chairman Paul Cansdale said. “It’s the army of volunteers that we’ve got who have nominated us.
“And it just shows what a family community club that we are that people took the time to vote for us.
“East Bergholt is a growing community and we’ve got people who’ve got their own friendships now and they book courts together.
“People have made friends. People have got together, and it’s just grown. It’s been lovely to see.”
Competition of the Year was split with Framlingham winning Development Competition of the Year before the ITF World Tour was named Performance Competition of the Year.
The Connecting Communities prize was awarded to Tennis for all Finsbury for providing free tennis holiday camps to over 700 children and to schools.
The charity also runs family sessions and during school holidays they organise tennis and food programmes.
“It feels fantastic, we’re really delighted,” manager John Mackinnon said. “We’re proud to win the award it’s a great accolade.
“It reflects on the work we’ve been doing in the community to really broaden engagement and get tennis to communities that might not always have the chance to play tennis.
“We’ve been delivering a wide and varied programme, reaching out into the community, as well as delivering programmes on court at Finsbury Park.”
Simon Spalter from Radlett received the LTA President’s Award for his work with the Tennis Volunteer Community group on Facebook.
The 57-year-old has built a thriving community that has created accessible channels of communication for tennis volunteers around the country.
“It’s amazing,” Spalter said. “It’s really very exciting and lovely to have won it for myself and the group, more importantly, that I represent.
“It’s amazing to be among so many winners and runners-up and to be part of it. Because tennis is on a journey of opening things up and getting more people involved. It really is a big family.
“I’ve been chairman of my local club in Hertfordshire and when I became chairman I didn’t really know where to go to get advice and help and support.
“I had the LTA, but I would have loved to have been able to talk to other chairpersons, treasurers, different people doing different things in clubs.
“And that was my thought process in setting something up that everybody has somewhere to go to talk to somebody in their peer group.”
And finally, Ifield Tennis Club was struggling in January 2020, but thanks to the incredible work of Paula White, the crucial Crawley-based facility has a new lease on life. After helping increase the club’s membership from eight to 60 and redeveloping the courts, White’s hard work has been recognised with the Volunteer of the Year prize.
“We have got so many plans for development in the future as well,” she said.
“It has been amazing; we are doing a club tournament at the moment.
“The club is buzzing, and it is the people.
“The core of the club and what makes it a success is the people, they are amazing, and everyone is thoroughly enjoying their tennis.
“It is just incredible, my husband, bless him, put the nomination in.
“I am absolutely blown away to be recognised, volunteering is such a wonderful thing to do.”
To find out more information about the LTA Tennis Awards or for information on how to play, coach, volunteer or officiate in tennis, head to https://www.lta.org.uk/