TENNIS: Evans honoured as Oxon embark on a new dawn

Bicester Advertiser: Mary Evans shows off her silver salver for long-service to county tennis. She is flanked by, from left, Lawn Tennis Association president Cathie Sabin and Oxfordshire committee members Nicky Maskens (chairman), Melanie Tonks (coach represen Mary Evans shows off her silver salver for long-service to county tennis. She is flanked by, from left, Lawn Tennis Association president Cathie Sabin and Oxfordshire committee members Nicky Maskens (chairman), Melanie Tonks (coach represen

It's the start of a new era in Oxfordshire tennis.

After almost 40 years serving the county, Mary Evans was rewarded for her work by the president of the Lawn Tennis Association at a special presentation on Tuesday evening.

And as Cathie Sabin handed over a silver salver and bouquet of flowers, some of the new-look committee looked on.

Evans was joined by family and many former members of the board who had overseen big changes in Oxfordshire tennis over the years.

But it is now a very different group that have taken over the baton.

Chaired by Nicky Maskens, the board now has four members under 30, with the lowest average age of any county committee in the country.

They are confident their ‘youthful’ approach will help relate to the mantra of the LTA, who are bidding to get more people involved in the sport.

Evans, a stalwart of Oxford Sports LTC, was asked to join the Oxfordshire committee in the late 70s and has served on it ever since.

“I’m not going to say exactly when I started because that will give it all away,” she joked.

“But there have obviously been some pretty big changes in Oxfordshire tennis during my time on the committee.

“It is lovely to see so many of those people again who were involved, with myself, in overseeing some of those changes.”

Sabin paid tribute to the work of Evans, and was confident of a positive new era.

“Myself and Mary go back a long way,” said the LTA president, who has just started a three-year tenure.

“She has given extraordinary service to tennis both in Oxfordshire and at a national level.

“Mary fully deserves this special day to thank her for her tremendous efforts.”

Maskens believes the future is bright for the county.

“Myself and all the members of the management committee are looking to raise the profile of the association and let our members know we are keen to play a more significant role in Oxfordshire tennis,” she said.

“We have a great team of people on the committee ranging from coaches to teachers, referees, IT and marketing skills and I am delighted to say four of them are under 30.

“We can boast we have the lowest average age of any county tennis association – and that’s even including myself!”.

She added: “With the significant changes at the LTA, who are looking to ‘get more people playing, more often’, we as an association need to ensure we can support these initiatives by playing a key role in working with all of our places to play in the county and representing their needs and opinions.”

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