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Special award for Hunstanton tennis week supremo

An administrator who has been at the heart of one of West Norfolk’s biggest annual events for more than 40 years has been honoured for his dedication.

The 2020 Hunstanton Lawn Tennis Tournament was originally due to have been completed on Sunday, but had to be cancelled in May due to the coronavirus crisis.

But its secretary, Chris Holt, has now been given a Meritorious Service Award by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).

Chris Holt has been honoured by the Lawn Tennis Association (41283333)
Chris Holt has been honoured by the Lawn Tennis Association (41283333)

The honour comes after the tournament, which is scheduled to return for its centenary year next August, was named Competition of the Year at the LTA’s annual awards last month.

Chris, who has served on the tournament’s committee for 45 years and been secretary since 1981, said he was “delighted and humbled” by the award, which is one of nine presented by the LTA this year.

But he added: “The tournament is not just about me, but a fantastic committee and many behind-the-scenes supporters who all make a massive contribution to the success of the event.”

Around 1,300 players now compete in the tournament, which is now the largest in Britain.

The award citation said: “The tournament has provided competition tennis opportunities for countless tens of thousands over the years.

“Events of this size take a huge amount of organisation and rely on a volunteer army to make them happen.

“Not only has Chris given a massive amount of his time on a purely voluntary basis over this amazing 45-year period to make the tournament run so successfully, but he has done it consistently with huge good nature and dedication and a willingness to help every competitor no matter how large or small their question.”

Chris added: “I have seen the tournament expand from a small six-day tournament with around 20 events held on about 10 courts to one which now hosts 43 events from under-12s to senior veterans with matches played across 38 grass courts, as well as a hugely popular informal round robin fun event for under-10s and under-12s and an afternoon ‘adult and child’ event for charity, and all on the Recreation Ground in Hunstanton.

“Organising the event involves 51 weeks of work. However, when I see the sun shining and tennis being played on 38 courts and thousands of people watching the matches and meeting friends and family, I think ‘we’ve cracked it for another year’.”

The 2021 tournament is due to take place from August 15 to 21.

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