Wimbledon hero Marcus Willis proved the star attraction at a free ‘Try Tennis’ session at Warwick Boat Club.
Qualifier Willis, who admits his fairy-tale run to the second round of the Championships has transformed his life, proved a hit as he gave coaching tips and played friendly games with more than 50 newcomers to the game, ranging in age from three to 73.
“It was great to see all the excitement and enthusiasm among the players who came along,” said Willis, whose world ranking has shot up to 420.
“It’s so important to broaden the base of British tennis and it doesn’t matter what background you’re from - tennis is a brilliant game for everyone and if you’re dedicated enough, you can even make it your career.
“We’re really lucky to have Marcus training and coaching here” said Warwick Boat Club tennis manager Gavin Henderson. “He’s infectiously enthusiastic and really got everyone fired up today.
“He always plays with a smile on his face and he’s helped spread the word about our regular free Sunday afternoon sessions for everyone, which are proving really popular.”
“My life’s completely changed since those two weeks at Wimbledon,” smiled Willis. “It’s opened so many doors for me - wild cards into tournaments, all sorts of offers.
“I’d been playing good tennis for a while: I had wins against men in the top 100 but this wasn’t talked about.
“If you do it at Wimbledon, though, that’s talked about.
“I got on an aeroplane [at Atlanta]. The security guard looked at me and went ‘Willis. I know who you are’.
“The story has gone global... everywhere you get ‘this was the guy who played Roger Federer on Centre Court’.”
Since Wimbledon, he has also been picked to represents the New York Empire team in the glitzy World Team Tennis League, where he plays doubles with former Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick.
“Andy’s retired from the circuit now and he’s put on a little weight, “ added Willis. “But he’s still an incredibly competitive guy and absolutely hilarious to play with.”
The Try Tennis sessions continue through the summer and run from 2 to 4pm each Sunday.
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