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Pupils ball crew for the W60 world tour $60K ladies tennis event at Shrewsbury Club

Ten pupils, along with other students from across Shropshire, were invited by Ian Gillespie of Highfive Tennis to take up the opportunity of ball crewing in the prestigious W60 world tour $60K ladies tennis event held at Shrewsbury Tennis Club.

The event was the biggest women’s tennis tournament in the UK planned for 2019 and spectators were treated to high quality tennis from some of the world’s leading players.

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Ian Gillespie, although never having had the chance to be a ball crew member himself, led and trained the team of youngsters who gained many valuable new skills from the experience.  Training took place in the newly built Momentum Hall each week. This facility is ideal for tennis training, particularly during the cold and wet winter months and the pupils would not have completed the ball crew training without this space.

Oswestry pupils were on court as part of the ball crew team for the entire week of the tournament. Being a ball boy/girl on a professional court is extremely fun, but at the same time very challenging. The skills developed and experiences gained are very valuable and pupils learned about teamwork, leadership, athleticism, concentration, forward thinking, stage presence and patience. Quick decision making was also a skill that was tested and developed during the event. Pupils spent 40 minutes on court followed by a 30 minute rest on a rota system. Their determination and will to improve was seen by all. They were all fantastic!

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Julie Piper, tournament director to the event said, "I want to thank the Headmaster for allowing the students who were part of the ball crew team the time off school to work at the event. They all did a fantastic job and conducted themselves both on and off the court in a professional manner and were a credit to the school. Many of the players playing at Shrewsbury have played in much bigger/higher prize money level events and all commented on how good the ball crew were. Whilst the students appeared to have an enjoyable week, they hopefully learnt a lot of ‘life learning skills’ such as teamwork, concentration and patience which will hopefully go towards their personal development. It was noticeable how the students grew in confidence as the week progressed.

"There are numerous pressures on educational establishments in allowing students out of school and it is perhaps not as easy as it used to be, but I just want to thank the school for their support of the event and I hope we can all work together again at future events."

Ex-president of the Lawn Tennis Association, Cathie Sabin, commented that Oswestry School ball crew were absolutely brilliant and were better than the ball crew at the Federation Cup the week before.

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