Fairford Tennis Club is fundraising for new facilities for its hardy members who have been playing throughout the winter in bitterly cold conditions.

A barn dance is being held next month to help raise funds and the club is also on the lookout for new members to join ahead of the new tennis year.

Member Cathy Sayers gives the Standard the rundown on why you need to be made of the right stuff to play Winter League Tennis, and invites lovers of the game to join and be part of an exciting future at Fairford Tennis Club.

It’s one of those things, signing up to sport in the winter and then actually fulfilling that pledge to play in a team in often freezing conditions.

That’s the scenario for us playing as part of a mixed doubles commitment through the cold winter months.

We have two teams. The A’s in the Swindon and District League 3rd Division and the B’s, of which I’m part, in the 5th Division. A total of 22 clubs take part and the logistics are interesting as from Fairford we may travel as far as Calne or as close as Lechlade for a fixture.

Matches are planned well in advance but come the day, the weather can often intervene. Recent cold conditions have wrecked havoc on our timetables. Also every court you play on is different. Some are affected well into the day by slippery frost and then of course there’s the difficulty of snow. People can’t necessarily drive to the matches and even if the roads are clear, the courts can be treacherous with snow or ice impeding play.

It does take a certain resilience to put a smile on your face and weather the storm, literally, or difficult conditions, whatever they may be. We often play through rain but if it’s torrential, it has to be cancelled.

This happened recently for our team who were due to play Chippenham Away.

But the forecast said it all. And was right. So the night before we ‘phoned round to let everyone know.

A robust character helps for winter tennis generally. Paid tuition is offered up at very reasonable rates on a Friday with Coaches Gary Naughton and Haydn Benney.

It’s a jolly affair where we concentrate on finding our form and improving our game.

Fairford Tennis Club has a membership of a 100 odd and social tennis goes on throughout the week at designated times.

Our two home courts by the town’s playing fields have lights so as to allow games or matches when it’s dark. But it’s a different feel playing underneath the lights and takes getting used to. Much better than travelling to the nearest indoor courts though in Swindon.

In the Swindon and District Winter League it’s two sets of mixed doubles Tennis followed by two sets of Ladies and/or Men’s. So four sets later after the match you go home physically exhausted either elated if you’ve won, or downcast if you haven’t. But it’s not all about the score, endless debates about shots and rallies can continue well into the night over a glass of something.

Injuries can be a big problem in the cold. One player in our team is now out of action and it’s difficult to fill his shoes.

Players are much keener to turn out in the Summer League. Plus some of us, it turns out, are away enjoying somewhere sunnier at this time of year.

One of the important things to factor in with Winter Tennis is one’s kit. Being warm before you start is helpful and dressing in layers means you can offload articles of clothing as you warm up. Hats are essential. Almost all wear long track suit bottoms. Some are not so faint hearted and even turn up in shorts during cold weather.

What’s also needed almost as a matter of course is a pair of sunglasses. The sun is so low at this time of year.

We at Fairford Tennis Club are a fun lot. We also pride ourselves on turning out almost whatever the weather and we are fundraising for a new sports hut at our courts. When we visit other teams, we are always left jealous as they have indoor toilets and comfortable changing areas. Plus hot water! These are luxuries we look forward to having in a future with new facilities. We are holding a fundraising barn dance on April 21.

It is taking place in the Palmer Hall, Fairford, from 7:30pm featuring the band, Jellied Reels. Tickets are £17.50 which includes supper from the Cotswold Chippy. There will be a bar and raffle. Tickets from 7A, White Cottage Dental Practise and Helen 01285 810615 or reply to fairfordtennismembership@gmail.com Membership subs do also help and we want to encourage youngsters to take up a sport that wind or shine, improves fitness and hardiness to boot!

For information about joining Fairford Tennis Club visit: clubspark.lta.org.uk/FairfordTennisClub Or visit the club’s Facebook page at facebook.com/Fairford-Tennis-Club-1374497496104883/

The new tennis year starts on April, 1 2018. 
Yearly membership prices as follows: 
Single Adult £65
Adult double (at same address) £115
Family double (2 adults at same address + any/all children under 25) £140
Student/Youth/Young Adult (under 25) £25
Junior – Primary (under 11) £15