Sheffield tennis club move more than 13,000 miles to reach Australian Open ahead of final

Members of a Sheffield tennis club moved more than 13,000 miles to hit their target of travelling the distance to the Australian Open three days early.

Sunday, 21st February 2021, 1:02 pm

Players, parents and coaches at Graves Health and Sports Centre were so committed to their lockdown challenge they clocked up 250 miles more than they needed to in their quest to reach sun-soaked Melbourne by Finals Day on Sunday.

Head of Tennis Sam Salt said: “I'm super proud. Proud doesn't cut it when it comes to the people involved.

“I didn't expect anything like the response we got. It's just been an incredible effort, I never thought we would have so many people doing it.”

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Clockwise from left: Oliver Waugh-Swain, Kelly, Darcey and Monty Lawton, Chris Muscroft and Adrian and Ben Dunkley all clocked up miles in the challenge.

Fourty-five people, aged between two and 86, moved more than seven miles daily on average for 40 days to held the club reach their target.

Chesterfield-based Sam, 31, added: “This challenge has occupied so much time for so many of the participants that it's become a key part of their day over lockdown.

"Some parents have sent messages saying ‘We have done 150 miles’ and said if it wasn't for the challenge they don't think they would have done hardly any of that.”

He continued: “It's nice to hear that. There's a lot of negativity in the world at the minute so it's nice to replace that with some positive messages.”

Sam Salt, head of tennis at Graves Tennis Academy.

Despite their ace efforts throughout the recent cold snap, the group were a day behind schedule before a late push in the final week of the tournament saw them catch up.

Sam said: “It was really good. That last 48 hours, we did over one thousand miles.

“Everyone was excited for that last push and smashed it home. If you look at the distance covered, we never did as much as that.”

The participants were so keen to continue exercising regularly they decided to challenge themselves to move the same distance to ‘come home’, Sam said.

He added: “Pretty much everybody was happy to keep going so everyone must have plenty in the tank still.

"If we're still in lockdown, then without it it's going to leave a massive hole in peoples days.”

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Nancy Fielder, editor.