By BRIAN MOORE
IS there a future Wimbledon champion living on the Mizen peninsula?
Julian Van Hasselt and the members of Schull Tennis Club believe that with a little encouragement, and a lot of hard work, there very well could be.
‘We have wonderful public courts here in Schull,’ Julian told The Southern Star. ‘And we’ve linked up over the last few year with Ballydehob, where there are public courts as well.’
The tennis club is working hard to promote the sport on the Mizen and the task has been made easier with the facilities available in both Schull and Ballydehob.
‘We held a very well attended tournament this summer. Anyone can play good tennis from the age of 10 to 110, indeed my brother (64) qualified as a tennis coach two years ago,’ Julian continued. ‘The tennis club members also play every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings at 9.30am in Schull, it’s great fun and everybody is welcome.’
However, it’s not only the locals that are enjoying the joys of tennis on the Mizen.
‘We decided that we would contact the local tourist office here in Schull and see how we could encourage visitors to use the courts,’ Julian continued. ‘And so we provided tennis rackets and balls for hire at the tourist office. It has proved very popular and we hope to do the same with the new tourist office in Ballydehob for next summer. The courts here in Schull are a great addition to the community and we want to ensure that we get the most out of them.’
‘A game of tennis a day keeps the doctor away,’ Julian, who is lovingly known as the ‘Duke of Wellington’ because of his love of playing tennis in wellington boots, said, and he is certain that somewhere out there on the Mizen there is the potential for a Wimbledon champion.
‘The Schull courts have the best view of any courts on the planet,’ Julian continued. ‘The facilities both here and in Ballydehob are good and with the new court we can literally play in any weather. Can we find a Mizen kid with Grand Slam potential one day – why not? Look at what the rowers from Skibbereen have achieved. I don’t see why we couldn’t do the same with tennis, so we want to promote the sport as much as we can.’
For the future, the club is planning to organise more formalised tournaments, both in Schull and Ballydehob.
‘We would like to organise trips for other clubs in Cork city to come to Schull and for us to perhaps play against them,’ Julian said. ‘And we really want to encourage more young people to get involved.’
For more information, contact Julian on 028 25765.