Callum Atkinson, aged 19, from County Durham, won the LTA Unsung Hero award during a ceremony held at Chester Racecourse earlier this week. The LTA Awards are held annually in each county across the country.
Callum, who is in the second year of his History with Politics degree, received the Award in recognition of the volunteering work he does for the University and its Tennis Club, as well as his efforts in recruiting new Tennis Club members during Induction Week. The Club’s membership has increased to over 40 members in the last five years.
Callum volunteers as one of the Tennis Club’s coaches to teach beginners and intermediaries. He has also volunteered in the wider University community, assisting at Open Days and helping new students settle in on Campus. He said: “I'm over the moon with my award. Some days volunteering can be stressful - you have ups and downs but winning awards like this makes the job worth it in the end.”
Callum added: “I first started playing tennis when I was around four or five years old and eventually I started playing at my hometown club, Shotley and Benfieldside Tennis Club. I always saw myself becoming a coach.”
Callum also coaches at Hoole Tennis Club. He was encouraged to pursue coaching and volunteering by Sam Stokoe, Director of The Raquet Man, a coaching and stringing company back in Callum’s hometown of Country Durham.
Sam said: “Callum’s enthusiasm on court and love of the game at all of the clubs he coaches at has helped to see a high increase in numbers. Even when he’s at University, the children still ask ‘when is Callum home?’ He’s greatly missed whilst away, but it’s brilliant to see all his hard work and dedication is being recognised with such a prestigious award.”
Sarah Latham, Student Activity Manager, said: “We are very proud of Callum’s achievements and encourage all sports and societies to get involveled in the local community.”
Callum is Vice Captain of the Tennis Club and Second Team Captain. The Club regularly competes in BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) competitions. Last year the Men's First Team went the entire 2016/17 season unbeaten and the Club has also been twice the national Touch Tennis Varsity winner.
The Tennis Club also won Cheshire LTA Educational Tennis Programme of the Year at the LTA Awards.