Chair's Annual Report

                                        BISHOP SUTTON TENNIS CLUB


BSTC 2023 Chair’s Report - AGM April 23rd 2024


This report covers the accounts for the year ending 31st December 2023 and items of interest up to end of 31st April 2024.


First and foremost a massive Thankyou to all Committee members, Tennis Forum members, coaches, our maintenance team and other volunteers!!


The club is a members’ club and can’t function without the help offered by volunteer members to maintain its operations. To each of the Committee (Sarah-Jane Streatfeild-James, Lyn Jones, Claire Dunsmore, Martine Duggan, Mark Hunter, Chris Edwards, Selena Gray) I extend my thanks for their hard work, good humour, support and commitment in making the club successful over the last year. Equally we have two members who act as Land Trustees, Mark Hunter and Jane Heeley, who ensure the land owned by BSTC is managed well and that the committee meetings are conducted with good governance. Posts are now changing with SJ stepping back and Roger Spours Bayliff standing in at the tail end of the year as secretary. Claire Allen has still been active sorting out old members and helping Claire Dunsmore as we move into billing members for 2024/2025, thanks Claire Allen. Mark Hunter has also stepped down and Nicola Gibbons has transferred with vigour into the social secretary position. A great vote of thanks goes to SJ, and Mark Hunter for all their help over the years. All our volunteers have truly been the underpinning of BSTC and the club should be truly thankful for all the hard work in supporting the club.


During 2023 I have been delighted to welcome a number of other people to the Committee and I can safely say we have hit our diversity stats! Although our new members usually have distinct roles, in practice it is a collective effort to make BSTC as good as it can be. We continue to seek new helpers and/or members of the committee to take part in the running of the club. Which for most of the time is great fun and ticks the “giving something back” box.


A few other people are worthy of mention for their contribution – the members of the Tennis Forum ably led by Lyn Jones are covered in the Forum section but deserve a big shout out. Thank you all! Also:


  • Liz Dagger for the lovely tub arrangements which brighten up the club surrounds.


  • Stuart Hatcliff for being our on-call electrician to help fix a number of things electrical.


  • Simon Haywood and Geoff Wembridge for providing first level fixes for things that go wrong around the courts and clubhouse.


  • Sarah Peacock – welfare officer and generally very wise counsel!


  • Roger Spours-Bayliff who signs off our accounts and makes sure Chris has added them up correctly!


  • Russell Wilkins, our grounds man for his continued help and passion on improving the grounds.



As I mentioned we are always on the lookout for more help, in particular we need to replace our land trustees, Carol King, Mark Hunter and Jane Heeley. Jane Heeley has been a great assistance over the years from being Ladies Captain and she is now stepping down in her role as a Land Trustee. She has been a superb help keeping the Chair and the Committee in line over all the vast number of meetings she has been present. If anyone is interested then let me know. The Land Trustee effectively makes sure that the Committee doesn’t sell off or misuse the freehold land that BSTC is blessed with, plus acts in a governance role around the committee meetings.


The club has two main forums, the Committee that looks after the general management of the club and the Tennis Forum which focuses on tennis-related aspects. The Tennis Forum is chaired by Lyn Jones with members Sara English, Sarah Peacock, Sarah Streatfield-James, David Tonkin, Mike Kopacki, and Dan Burgess. The Forum could always do with more parent captains of the junior teams or otherwise. Thanks to all for their help.


The coaching team led by Mike Kopacki our Head Coach provides great support for the training of our active junior section and improving the skills of our adults. Thanks to all the coaching team including our two other regulars Dan Burgess and Fleur Wilcox. Dan went “walk about” in the summer and enjoyed himself in far flung lands – it was good to see him return. Nathan Hawkins also provides valuable cover outside his teaching job. A number of level one and level two coaches have been helping out, with James Taber providing great support supplemented by Ollie Lowe and latterly Fred Hatcliff. We are also grateful for the level one coaches and the help from the junior tennis players as they assist the coaches in their sessions. 


The club tournament, support for running adult and junior matches and general help around the club facilities brings in another set of support from volunteers for which we are very grateful for their support. The parent captains have been excellent and I think they also get something out of the experience, and we welcome their support and enthusiasm.


This year all the committee with the exception of Mark and SJ will stand again for election. However, I am very keen to get further representatives helping the club and hopefully joining the committee. We have particular areas such as Land Trustee that I would like to find some help with. Members, I would ask you to step forward and have a go and help your club continue to thrive.


Equally it would be good to just get a helping hand with a number of new projects, for example – clubhouse at CVS, researching paddle tennis, developing a bar at the clubhouse and many more items!


The club continues to provide free places to the Valley’s Ukrainian visitors.


Chew Valley School Courts (CVS) – Update


The school courts have been well used this year. The courts were repainted back in September 2022 by Fosse Contracts and some tree root incursion in court 4 was cut out. The courts and LED floodlighting continue to receive good reviews. They have been a great help in providing summer league tennis for BSTC and for one of the men’s teams from Somervale Tennis Club.


We are awaiting dates for the annual meeting with the school.


We were given permission nearly two years ago by the school to put in a “clubhouse” at CVS. To date this has not progressed as despite frequent requests for help to the members, no one has come forward. For those members that think we should have a clubhouse that can provide shelter and viewing areas to watch junior and senior matches then the answer is simple. If you volunteer to help then it will happen.


BSTC Facilities Update


We have done the following substantial work:


  • Court 5 and kidzone repainted, plus Pickle Ball lines
  • Tree surgeon reviewed our trees. A large sycamore was cut down as potentially dangerous and replaced with a lime tree
  • Shed between court 2 and 3 refurbished
  • Bicycle rack refurbished with a seat instead
  • Light pole protectors replaced around court 1 and 2
  • Entry signs and exit signs replaced
  • Door catch on main clubhouse door replaced
  • Clubhouse was flooded from a burst pipe during the winter
  • Several drainage issues requiring septic tank to be emptied
  • Defibrillator added to outside of court so available for tennis club and general public


In 2024 we will:


  • Repaint court 3 and start planning for the artificial grass courts replacement on court 1 and court 2.
  • The bent netting poles on court 3 to be rectified
  • Broken fencing around garden in car park to be replaced
  • Battery operated equipment bout to replace noisy, heavy and fumy petrol-based equipment
  • Club entry signs to be refreshed
  • Possible repaint of entrance gate
  • Lay path at Chew Valley and get access to main gate





Health and Wealth of the Club


The club continues to be well managed and well-funded. However, this is the second year of difficult financial results. The club made a surplus of £7.4k (2022 - £11.4k) but the money we need to set aside for our sinking fund was £21.7k, so effectively a deficit of £14.3k. This year we have spent more on maintenance including tree repairs of £8.2k plus an inflated electricity bill of £7.2k. The offset this year was the return to positive returns on funds invested, a swing of £9.5k as the impact of the Ukraine war washed through in the previous year.


Member rates for 24/25 have had to cope with the prior year inflationary pressures plus a positive estimation of a suitable surplus to cover future sinking fund requirements.


The sinking fund is the club’s pot of money to replace the courts and the facilities as they wear out. Further details on the year are contained in the Treasurer’s report.


Our membership package fees for 2024/25 continue to be highly competitive in relation to the surrounding comparable clubs with adult packages between at least 11% to 30% cheaper than the comparable evidence from other clubs which are generally based on 2023 subscriptions.


The trend in package numbers and total members is of concern. The increase in package numbers reported last year of 20 has reversed with package numbers dropping from 381 to 328 this year. The adult and family/couple packs fell by 21 which are the monetary valuable packages. Junior packages fell by 25 which is concern for future playing numbers. The club is watching carefully the trend in 2024/25 renewals and total packages sold. Overall membership in numbers fell from 629 members to 594 members.


Tennis Forum report 2023


The tennis forum meets 3 times a year and exists to oversee tennis at the club and provide input into the BSTC committee on tennis matters. This includes support for the junior program, ensuring that enough opportunities exist for members to play tennis when they choose and to manage our programme of junior and adult competitions and league matches. Thanks to the members over the past year who have worked hard to ensure all these activities continue. The current members of the tennis forum are Lyn Jones, Sarah-Jane Streatfeild-James, Mike Kopacki, Dani Burgess, Sara English and Sarah Peacock (Welfare Officer). Additional thanks to Sue Hicks who has taken over as the Single Point of Contact (SPC) for Adult League matches for Avon LTA from Lyn Jones.


Junior Tennis Program 2023/24

The junior program continues to thrive, with over 200 juniors attending regular coaching groups every week. In the summer of 2023, we entered 12 junior teams into the Avon league, with 5 teams winning their respective leagues and another 5 finishing in second place. In the winter league, we were represented by 15 teams, with 3 winning their leagues and 2 finishing as runners-up.

In 2023, we focused on expanding our U6s structure and offered a free 14-week course to 40 children aged 4-6. We aim to continue this initiative every September to support a continuous influx of young talent into our program and club membership. Simultaneously, our U18s structure remains one of the largest in the county, with a robust group of 18 players meeting weekly. Many of these players have transitioned to adult league tennis and contribute to our coaching structure as accomplished Level 1s or Duke of Edinburgh volunteers.

Parent captaining remains a cornerstone of our junior program, with 12 dedicated junior captains supporting all our junior teams. Special recognition is due to Nikki Flemming, who stepped down after over 6 years of service as a junior captain supporting boys' teams from U10 to U18. Her son, George, also plays a significant role in our club structure, competing in men's adult teams and assisting in coaching juniors as a Level 1 assistant.

On the performance front, we have 8 players in the county structure, with the latest additions being Peter Goldsmith and Flicky Esteves-Merry in the U8s Avon squads.

Another special acknowledgment goes to Sarah Streatfield-James, who stepped down after 5 years as the program administrator and junior leagues coordinator. Sarah's immense contributions have been invaluable, and we wish her the best in her future endeavours. We extend a warm welcome to our new administrator, Myrto Preen, who has quickly acclimated to the role and is actively contributing to the further growth of the junior section.

Lastly, we would like to recognize Fred Hatcliff and Anna Streatfeild-James, who will soon be leaving for university after two years of dedicated service as Level 1 assistants in the program. Their contributions have been significant, and they will be missed.



Ladies Summer League 2023


We continue to have a very strong ladies section of the club playing competitive tennis. We have 51 ladies signed up to Weds practice which means most weeks have a great turn out. We entered 4 teams in the Summer 2023 league which allowed 33 of our ladies to represent the club. It also gave an excellent opportunity for many of our older girls to play adult tennis.


We entered 4 teams in the summer league and special thanks are due to our captains, Sara English for the 1st team and 2nd team and Claire Dunsmore who looked after the 3rd and 4th teams. It's a huge effort to check availability, plan 4 players for each team every Friday for 10 weeks, co-ordinate transport and refreshments, let alone play as well! Here is a round up of results for the four teams written by Sara and Claire.


This year, as always, saw some highs and lows during the summer season. We had a few injuries and had some tough matches but we also had some great results and most importantly we had fun!!


1st team - Div 3A

The firsts finished an excellent 3rd in their division, 18 points clear of the team that finished 4th and winning 7 out of 10 matches. It's a great position for us to be in and will mean we remain in Division 3 next year. Shout out to the amazing Fleur who played all ten matches and finished top of the player stats and the equally amazing Lucy who played 7 matches. Big congratulations to all who played in this team and helped secure this great result.



2nd team - Div 4B

The seconds had a tough year in division 4 against some very good opposition. Injury also played it's part and we missed some of our regular players. Shout out to lovely Polly for playing 7 matches in the seconds. The team ended up 6th in the division but the matches were hard fought and close in results. This means we will be in division 5 next year but our focus will be on coming straight back up! 


3rd team - Div 5B

The thirds also had a tough time in division 5 and ended up 5th. The competition was close in this division with 2 points separating the teams that finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Matches were hard fought and some of them long! and we had 18 people play their part in the team. We will be in division 6 next year but again very focused on coming straight back up! 


4th team - Div 7A

The fourths - well what can we say - were totally brilliant! We won this division - 7 points ahead of Saltford who finished 2nd, and 24 points ahead of Sodbury 6ths who finished 3rd! A huge well done to everyone who played in this team - you smashed it! Division 6 next year - thoroughly deserved! 

So, a mix of results and gives us some focus for next year - but overall we should all be proud of the season we have had. A BIG well done everyone that has played.


Men’s Summer League 2023


The men’s league tennis squad continues to develop with a pool of strong and committed players. Match practice nights on Monday night have been well attended. Thanks to David Tonkin and Dan Burgess who helped organise the match tennis.


1st Team – Div 2A

A good result considering the range of players who played this year. We had three main players in Sam Rookes, Nathan Hawkins and Alex Cook. Jasper Pover was unfortunately injured for much of season. In total nine players played. So, a third spot in the league was a good result. Sam Rookes ended up 4th in the overall league.


2nd Team – Div 4B

In the end a fourth place was a good result with ten players playing through the season as we struggled to get regular pairs out. Tim Sephton and Ben Phillips led the charge for BSTC winning more than they lost.


3rd Team – Div 6A

The team got relegated by just two points. A bit disappointing but then we did have 17 players turning out. This was a mixture between giving everyone who wanted to play a game and at times scrabbling for a team. Well done to all involved and we will be back into Div 6A.


The coming year we have four captains, having entered a fourth team again. The fourth team will enable us to try new players and give the growing number of people who want to try league an option.


Winter League 2023/24

Winter league has only just finished this weekend as it fills the gap between October and April and gives us a chance for some mixed tennis. This year we entered a Senior mixed team and two 'Open' mixed teams. The seniors team was captained by David Tonkin and had some tough matches in Division 1 of the Senior league with some excellent quality matches. They finish the season in 5th and will stay up next season. A special mention to David Tonkin, Mark Hunter, Sara English and Sarah Sheehan who played the majority of matches and thanks to the other players who made up our 16 strong squad this winter.

The other two winter league teams captained by Lyn Jones and Claire Dunsmore had some good tennis in the open divisions despite a wet, wild and windy winter. The 1st team finished 3rd and thanks to the 25 players who represented the team especially Simon Haywood who played the most matches! The 2nd team had a tougher time and will go down next season, Thanks to the 16 players who played. Winter tennis is harder to organise with the weather but gives a great chance for our players to stay match fit whilst waiting for the summer leagues to start again.


Annual Club Tournament 2023

The annual club tournament is played from May throughout the summer with all finals being played on finals day in early September. Players enter the draws and are then drawn with random partners for the doubles. There were many really competitive matches even in the first-round worthy of getting through to the finals. Finals day itself saw a great turn out to watch the matches and enjoy the usual BBQ and cakes. Congratulations to all the winners and runners up for 2023!


Ladies Doubles: Dawn Booth and Olivia Nobbs

Ladies Singles: Lydia Weston

Mens Doubles: Ben Phillips and Brian Treneman

Mens Singles: Sam Rookes

Mixed Doubles: Claire Dellbridge and Ben Phillips


Boys U16: Alfie Hatcliff

Girls U16: Rebecca Lloyd

Boys U12: Sebbie Esteves Merry

Girls U12: Rebecca Lloyd

U10 - Oliver Carter-Lily

U9 - Tilly Rigby

U8 - Dougie Raymond

Boys Doubles: Max English and George Waller

Girls Doubles: Aoife Willcox and Holly Cooper


Most Improved Player: Alfie Hatcliff

Junior Clubman of the year: Polly Jones


Going Forward – focus for year ahead


  • Analyse and act on the club survey
  • Continue to progress the social side of the club, perhaps a bar facility!
  • Improve social tennis opportunities, introduce singles ladder
  • Change the charity status to one that has a CIO status
  • Provide a clubhouse at Chew Valley.


Best wishes for the year ahead.


David Tonkin


April 2024