RIDING Mill Tennis Club is celebrating after completing a hat-trick of honours.

It was named club of the year at last week’s Northumberland Tennis Awards. And at the same event, club champion Ross Breen won the county’s fair play award.

Success at the awards evening, which took place in Jesmond, followed hard on the heels of the Riding Mill men’s team clinching promotion through the ranks of the Dunlop Northumberland & Durham League. The squad of captain Rob Archer, Ross Breen, Paul English, Andy Hancock, Simon Macleod, Nika Sharifi, Colin Simpson and Tom Smyth were unbeaten throughout the summer, winning all five of their matches.

Recognition at the county awards was richly deserved for a club which has undergone rejuvenation in recent years.

Judges were impressed by an ambitious development programme which has seen Riding Mill’s two main courts upgraded, along with its multi-use court next to the parish hall which is used by the wider local community. Walking football and walking netball sessions have recently been introduced.

The resurgence of the 60-year-old club has been reflected in the growth in its membership, with the number of adult players increasing this year by more than 20 per cent to around 60. Social playing sessions are held five times a week, with group coaching sessions held every Sunday morning.

Also grabbing the attention of the judges were the club’s concerted efforts to increase the number of junior players to its ranks. With the help of regular coaching sessions under the auspices of coach Simon Macleod, summer holiday camps and tournaments, junior membership this year has doubled to around 30.

And the club is seeking support to expand its junior programme even further.

Ross won the county fair play award in recognition of his distinguished service to the club over the past six years. He has been club singles champion for the last four seasons, and a stalwart of the triumphant men’s team. The judges paid tribute to the outstanding sportsmanship of Ross, and his support of both adult and junior players at the club.

Club chairman Rob Archer said he was delighted to collect the club of the year award and to see Ross honoured for his contributions on and off the court.

“Out of all the great work done by tennis clubs across the county, it is terrific for the club to be recognised for the great strides we have made in recent years,” he said.

“While it is wonderful to celebrate the success of the men’s team, the club of the year title has been earned by every single member who has supported the development of the club, helped attract new members and enhanced our reputation as a club with an inclusive and friendly outlook, determined to increase participation in tennis.”