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Upton by Chester Tennis Club

The Friendly Club



• Apologies – Marie Lavelle, Sagnik Murthy, Dave Jones, Andrew Bennett, Bryan Mecklenburgh, Marion Savill, Andrew Thompson

• Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising (page 2)

• Election of club officials

• Membership Secretaries’ Report (page 5)

• Treasurer’s Report (page 6)

o What court hire fees can we afford to pay next year? o Our alternative ways forward (see under Notes below)

• Team Captain’s Report (page 8)

• Use of Club hours

o Do we give families Saturday mornings 11am-1pm to promote Family Membership?

• Clubspark, lighting and the LTA

• Open Day 2023


Upton by Chester Tennis Club Annual General Meeting Thursday 25th November 2021 Pavilion, Wealstone Lane

Present: John Hill (Chairman), Nicola Runnels-Moss (Secretary), Paula Mercer (Membership Secretary), Mike Mercer (Team Captain), Sharon Hill, Bryan Mecklenberg, Jayne Lloyd, Clive Liddiard, Andrew Thompson, Marie Lavelle, Marion Arden, Andy Bennett, Judith Hollins, Nigel Banks, David Hart.

1. Apologies: Wendy Williams, Paul McDonald, Gavin Owens, Ben Nicholson

Nik Murthy, Liam Shelbourne, Marianne Male.

2. Minutes of Last meeting 7th November 2019 Accepted proposed by Mike

3. Matters arising – these would be dealt with in item 8.

4. Captains report see attached report

5 Membership Secretary’s Report

Nicola reported that we had 46 playing members this year (+ 6 Life

Members), 42 Senior (up 3 from last year), 1 student and 3 Juniors and we received £2010 in subs

Last year we had 43 playing members once the courts had opened again after the lockdown and received £1705 in subs. The numbers are down from 2019 when we had 67 members but Covid has intervened and also a lot of the students are at university and not playing any more.

The good thing is that a lot more of the current players are playing regularly and even in November we are getting 14 plus to Sunday club nights. We would also get more families joining if there were playing times available for kids.

6. Re-election of club officers.

All officers were re-elected, proposed by Andrew.

Safeguarding Policy

John reminded the meeting that Nicola Runnels-Moss was the Welfare officer, her contact details were posted on the board outside and courts, and she had recently updated her safeguarding and DBS requirements.

8. Proposed changes to our relationship with the Parish Council

John gave us the background to the situation. 4 years ago the Parish Council with a grant from the LTA planned to put up new fences and lighting. Inevitably delays occurred especially with Covid and the works are due

to start very soon. However, the Council has only now just realised they need to recoup the cash and have decided they need £5000 a year from court income. They took advice from LTA (based at Hoole) though there was no advice for UTC even though we are registered with the LTA, and John was excluded from the discussions.

John had proposed a joint entity combining our club and the Pavilion tennis bookings and initially the Council were in favour. However last Wednesday during a Zoom meeting with the Council and LTA representative, they had changed their minds drastically. They now wanted 2 memberships, 2 Clubsparks (to control gate entry) and wanted more money from UTC with no more court access. Currently we have 17.6% of court time and pay 39% of the £5000 pa required by the Council. The situation is currently at loggerheads. They want their own membership (costing £96) for casual players, who they think will want coaching but will not want to join the club. They want their own coaching, and want to take away some of our prime court time plus Saturday mornings for coaching.

They have not yet produced a definitive rate they want us to pay but it will be considerably more than the £1976 we pay currently with reduced court


John pointed out that the concept of having 2 entities contradicts LTA policy.

See under Proposal A that was circulated before the AGM.

John has also contacted Baseline for legal advice on the basis that the LTA representative has a conflict of interests and we need our own advisor.

A discussion ensued led by Nigel (an ex Councillor) and Andrew who has

some experience in such matters. The logical conclusion is either that the Council actually want us out, or they think we would be happy to pay so much more for fewer hours. The question was – how much are we prepared to pay per annum for reduced hours, or do we want to move to a possible alternative venue. John has been looking at courts at The County in Mannings Lane. He has visited them and they are keen to have us – 5 artificial courts with lighting and a clubhouse with bar, though we do not yet have any figures for costs pa. The courts are currently only used by the Hammond School during school hours so we would have fairly free evening and weekend access and could possibly negotiate a morning during the week.

Marion gave a warning that The County might not always be so helpful as her hockey club had issues with them.

Paula pointed out that at the moment their coaching was a huge benefit to the community. They were on to their 3rd generation of children and every week 16-20 children had coaching.

The following decisions were made:

Initially John would follow up on Baseline to get advice.

We would wait till after next Wednesday when the next Zoom meeting with the Council was scheduled. Depending on the outcome, the following actions were suggested:

1. As many UTC members as possible would contact their own Parish Councillor to ask what they knew about the current discussions vis a vis the courts, and point out that UTC has been going for 45 years and it would be a real shame to risk losing the good will and low cost community service to local children, which benefits their tennis ability, health and well-being and is also a benefit to adults and retirees.

2. As many as possible would attend the next public Parish Council meeting on Wednesday 13th December to put our case directly to the Council via


3. John would continue his discussions with The County and report back once he had some practical figures. If the rates were reasonable, we could go there for a test session to see if we did want to move location. At some point there would be the need for an EGM once all the information had been gathered.

There was no other business and the meeting closed at 8.40pm.

Membership Report AGM 27th September 2022

This year we have 33 members comprising 1 student, 1 Junior and 31 adults (including one family membership). This is not including 3 or 4 life members – of these only Jill Smith and David Hart still participate in the club (though not on court).

2022 tennis subs have brought in £2180 (note that the calculations in the treasurers report are from the beginning of the 2022-23 tax year in April although many of the subs were paid in March.)

This is fewer than previous years. In 2021 42 seniors, and in 2020 39 seniors. All fewer than 2019 pre Covid with 46 seniors (these numbers do include life members).

One of the recent issues is that we have lost our family memberships as there are no court times suitable for parents and children to play. One suggestion might be to prioritise the Saturday morning session for families, unless we can negotiate an extra hour earlier one evening for families??


AUTHOR: Sagnik (Nik) Murthy, Club Treasurer DATE: 27th September 2022


Opening Balance as on 01-Apr-2022 = £4,268.26

Income during the year from:

a. Member Subscriptions up to 04-Sep-2022 = £1,040.00

a. Cash = £260.00

b. Cheque = £390.00 c. Bank Transfer = £390.00

b. Match Fee Collections from players (Men’s & Mixed Teams) = £8.00

c. Match fees collected by Mike (outstanding) = £180.00 ------------------------------------

Total Income = £1,228.00

Expenses arising during the year due to:

a. Court Hire Fees (Apr’22-Mar’23) - awaiting invoice from Council = £3,432.00

b. Match Balls for the 3 League teams (Men’s & Mixed) - paid = £125.40

c. Club website fees paid to Vistaprint (John Hill) - paid


d. LTA Registration fees 2022-2023 (waiting to be paid in Oct or Nov) = £240.00 circa


Total Expenses = £3,959.29 circa

Closing Balance as on 27-Sep-2022 = £5,164.97. Actual amount in bank account now. This figure will decrease once Expense items (a) and (d) above are paid out.


1. Membership subscriptions fell from £1,791.55 last year to £1,040. Our financial year runs from Apr 2022 – Mar 2023. This number can be tallied against Nicola’s membership accounts to confirm.

2. Match fee collections of £188.00 covered cost of match balls (£125.40).

3. Court Hire Fees (Apr’22-Mar’23) of £3,432 is waiting to be paid until we receive the

invoice from the parish council. Suzi Pollard, their clerk is away and will return in Dec 2022.

4. Upcoming expenses for next 4 months include:

a. Court hire fees of Apr’22-Mar’23

b. LTA venue registration fees

Estimated total expenses = £2,750 approx.

5. Forecasted income for next 4 months:

a. Any outstanding Membership subscriptions still to be paid

= circa £3,432 = circa £240



b. Christmas Pub Quiz hosted by Mike and Paula(circa £ 150-180) Estimated total income = £150-180 and counting

6. Estimated balance at end of year Mar-2023 based on above:

a. Closing Balance as on 27.09.2022

b. Upcoming expenses

c. Forecasted income

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Estimated bank balance at end of year Mar-2023= circa £ 1,650 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The court fees of £3,432 will be paid in Dec 2022 once invoice is received.

7. Open Day – not sure how many new sign ups were generated this year from the event. But Paula and Nicola are better placed to advise on this.

8. The Annual Tournament was held at our own courts on Sun 4-Sep-2022. No club expenditure was incurred as club members contributed towards food. Hosting it at our courts meant that we neither had to pay for courts nor charge entry fees. The Pavilion guys were kind enough to let us have the use of the facilities without paying court hire charges.

9. For the fifth year running, the club procured match balls in bulk for all the 3 teams participating in the Chester league. This was at a cost of £125.40

Thanks and regards, Sagnik (Nik) Murthy End of Report

= £5,164.97 = - £3,672.00 = + £150-180



The men finished a very creditable fourth out of eight teams. The top three teams were clearly in a class of their own and finished a long long way ahead of the rest of the teams so we came ‘best of the rest’.

We scored particularly good wins against Chester C, Hoole D, and Helsby B all of which have a much bigger pool of players to select from. The team have shown great character with impressively gutsy performances from Chris Quartermaine, Ben, Chris Saul, Gavin and Huseyin – who all contributed valuable points to our overall total. Alex Mason had a terrific first season playing for Upton and his record was very impressive in terms of matches played and sets won, putting him in the top ten in the divisional ratings list.

There have been issues in getting teams in place for matches and we did have to request a postponement on one occasion but the teams we have put out have put in 100% effort and performed possibly above expectations. Great credit to everybody concerned.


The team finished fifth out of seven teams in a similar situation to the mens division in that there were in this case four teams very much better than the three other teams but we came out on top in that three horse race at the bottom.

Our best performance came in the opening match against ultimate champions Port Sunlight when we won 5-4 thanks to a great performance in the top mixed by Gautam and Judith in darkness. Generally we gave every one of the top four teams a good match especially in the mens doubles where we had many notable wins from Alex, Matt and Gautam.

Sadly we had less success in ladies doubles but no shortage of effort and commitment here either. Judith has been as reliable as ever with excellent support from Marie and Jayne. Again there were availability issues which meant we had to request four postponements, but we have been very short of players on the ladies side due to holidays and injuries etc. We did our best though and finished as high as we could expect.

SUMMARY – a difficult and frustrating time for the captain/selector regarding availability but from a tennis perspective a hugely enjoyable season indeed and with a very respectable finish from both teams. It should be pointed out that these matches are conducted in a very friendly atmosphere against very nice people like ourselves and so if you are reluctant to play matches you should be reassured it is not a high- pressure experience. Many thanks to everyone who played any matches – it is very much appreciated.


This took place on Sunday 4th September and involved mixed doubles, ladies doubles, mens doubles and mens singles. The entry was good when considering the low-level membership.

Despite forecasts predicting the worst the weather was in fact extremely kind to us and the tournament went ahead as scheduled without interruption.

All events were played on a knock-out basis with sets being played to 7 rather than 6. The Mixed Doubles saw the biggest entry and it produced some of the most entertaining matches of the day. The semi-finals saw Jayne and Andrew taking on a dangerous-looking Wendy and Clive with possible favourites Marie and Ben looking to get the better of an unpredictable Judith and Nigel. There was much tension and excitement but Jayne and Andrew and Marie and Ben claimed victories and went on to contest an even better final. Marie and Ben were made to fight hard for a 7-5 win.

The Ladies Doubles saw Judith and Sharon win a very tough semi-final against Jayne and Marie and Wendy and Catherine won through against Paula and stand-in ‘lady’ Oliver (thanks Oliver!). It was terrific to see both Paula and Catherine on court again and enjoying their tennis after such a long time away and they both played superbly well. In a pulsating final Judith and Sharon just had a little too much firepower for the very impressive Wendy and Catherine. It was great to see Sharon winning a club tournament and showing what a tough player she can be.

In the Mens Doubles John and Bryan had a good win against Nigel and Clive to reach the semi-finals where they came up against an in-form Oliver and Chris who were too good on this occasion, winning 7-3. In the other semi-final Gavin and Ben fought out a thrilling encounter against

Dave and Andrew with Gavin and Ben just edging the only 7-6 of the day. Gavin and Ben went on to convincingly win the final against a subdued Oliver and Chris who didn’t quite hit top gear on this occasion, with Gavin and Ben proving very difficult to hit through.

Four brave souls entered the Mens Singles. Oliver lost a tough match against the very determined Gavin and Clive could not find the winning formula against Ben’s terrific all-round tennis. The final had to be carried over to a later date and is unplayed at the time of this report.

Sadly there were no volunteers to take on Paula in the Ladies Singles!! LOL.

So a great day’s tennis in good weather but this event was immediately made so much the merrier once John and Sharon very kindly organised wine and nibbles. A very big thank you to both for doing that and making sure everybody left having had a really good time as far as they could remember.


The format of the tournament generally worked well and we appreciate everyone’s patience if they had to sit out a long time and everybody played their part in creating a really enjoyable atmosphere. Well done to all those who entered and for playing in such a good spirit – the club tournament is important and all those present made it a great day.



Mens Singles: Ben Nicholson

Mens Doubles: Gavin Owens/ Ben Nicholson 

Ladies Doubles: Judith Hollins/Sharon Hill 

Mixed Doubles: Marie lavelle/Ben Nicholson

Runner/s Up

Gavin Owens

Chris Saul/Oliver Hingston

Wendy Williams/Catherine Wilding 

Jaynes Lloyd/Andrew Bennett


Election of Officials:

Clive Liddiard is formally proposed as Chairman from today and Marie Lavelle as Mixed Team Captain for 2023/4. We have yet to receive a nomination, or volunteer, for the role of Men’s Captain.

The Way Forward – 2023 and beyond

Thanks to Council rebates due to Covid, income from membership, additional fund-raising by Mike and Paula with the fiendishly marvellous Christmas Quiz, match fees and careful husbandry of our resources over the last few years; we have been blessed with sufficient funds to pay the increased court rental for 2022/3 by applying an internal subsidy from reserves – should we ever receive an invoice! We will even have some monies left over to add to the pot for 2023/4.

That said, however, we now face an uncertain future for 2023/4 and beyond. This is mainly due to the ravages to membership levels wrought by Covid, plus the cut-off of our life-blood through the cessation of in-house coaching feeding new members into the Club. Also, the Council’s decision to stop members playing whenever courts were not already booked meant that families couldn’t easily find suitable times to play, resulting in Family Memberships withering away.

If you recall, our rental went up by 50% this year to £3 per hour per court and there was talk of a further increase next year to £4. We already knew that £4 was unsustainable and after much to-ing and fro-ing we got the Council to promise to favourably review that ambition if membership didn’t bounce back to pre-Covid levels. Even assuming they stick to that undertaking, we still have to find £3,432 for the same number of hours next year (plus match balls).

The amount of subsidy the Club can put in next year from reserves will be minimal, so we will have to make ends meet via one, or several, of the options open to the Club:

1) Increase in Membership Fees

If we remain at approx. 30 adult members, membership fees would have to rise to approx. £110, which is rapidly approaching the annual fees at other local clubs with more court access.

2) Increase in Membership

Just 10 more adult members next year would reduce the prospective adult fee to £86. Recruitment is vital.

3) Reduction in Reserved Hours

Do we keep the same number of hours as this year? There seem to be some timings which are hardly ever used. Handing back 2 hours a week, year round, reduces the burden. (30 members would pay £94, 40 members would pay £71).

4) Joining Forces with the Pavilion

The Council has previously believed that they could fill the courts post-refurbishment with the public and with their coaching sessions (as predicted, they have failed to achieve this lofty target). As a result, last January they rejected the idea of having one Club membership, with members having access at any time not already booked by a fee-paying member of the public.

If the current Club can’t meet the Council’s rental demands next year, they risk losing their major source of income, as we’ll be unable to pay them. If they were to replace their annual rental charge to the Club by having people join the Pavilion at a sensible fee, they would have the benefit of all our fees and we would not have the dark cloud of extinction looming over us. Then they could work at increasing the membership whilst we could play at any unbooked time and preserve some social tennis hours for meeting up (Wed, Sun, etc). Families would be able to play whenever it suits them.

Clearly, there are arguments for and against these options. This not being the Kremlin, members are invited to put forward alternatives, or adopt a combination of approaches before the middle of January (the Council would inevitably have to approve any major changes at their monthly meeting in either January or February).

I suggest that there should be some period of consultation within the membership and the Committee, so that preferences are established in plenty of time for what could be a long process with the Council.

I’m sure the Club will find a way to adapt and thrive. It’s certainly in the Council’s interest to come to an agreement. There would be some hard questions asked if they contrived to lose their main tennis income after having spent all that money on improvements!