Today reader Graeme Foreman tells us more about how sport, and in particular tennis, shaped his life.
“I was fortunate to have a successful USA career” says South Tynesider and Westoe Tennis Club stalwart Graeme, “and played international tournaments before a major shoulder operation hindered any further success.
“I subsequently went to Loughborough University to further my academic career and represented them at university level.
“I then left and went to Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cyprus and Egypt, where I managed sports facilities (much bigger than Westoe) and coaching international and national ranked juniors.
“After nine years abroad I returned home to lecture in sports science, with the emphasis on coaching and psychology, and returned to my old home of Westoe Tennis Club.
“There was very little happening and they asked me to run the coaching programme which I did, alongside my job, to try to put Westoe back on the map.
“Within a few years we had the first team back in the top flight league and I was joined by a few of the county players.
“We had a coaching programme that had 170 juniors and the Gazette covered a lot of the events we ran. We had the Cliff Richard Tennis Foundation come to South Tyneside for three years, visiting 30 schools and setting up a performance squad at Westoe.
“We also took players to Spain for clay court practice and to Wimbledon to see their idols.
“Within those years, I went back to play county tennis for Durham and Cleveland. I have captained and coached the team for the past 10 years (this is my 11th year at Oxford this summer) and I have played in the County 35 team.
“Westoe and my dad gave me the opportunity to love and enjoy the game of tennis, and make a living from the world of sport.”
Graeme currently works within the world of performance psychology at Durham University, Durham Institute of Sport, Durham Cricket and I also work with UK Anti-Doping, The Football Association and a variety of professional and amateur sportsmen and women.
“I also work in the business and education sectors and have recently worked with Northumbria Police and Gateshead College to name a few.
“It is such a shame to see the demise of Westoe Tennis Club over the last decade, since I have not been involved. The courts are now a car park for caravans and there are very few junior players.
“If this was the case when I was younger I may not have had the opportunities as I did boy.
“How many local kids are now missing that chance? It is such a shame.
“A big thank you for reminding me of some of the good times.”