Aegon Open Nottingham 2016: Q & A with volunteer Mark Frettingham
This June, Nottingham will be welcoming international tennis stars back to the city for the return of the Aegon Open Nottingham Tennis Championships. 2015’s competition was a huge success and with another lineup of world class sports men and women set to play, this year promises to bring more top quality tennis to the Home of Sport.
Retired teacher and Nottingham local Mark Frettingham will be seeing all the action from behind the scenes as a competition volunteer. Alongside approximately 100 fellow volunteers, Mark will be the ‘face of the games’ at the Nottingham Tennis Centre. He shares some of his insider insights and top tips with us below.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your role in the lead up to and during the competition.
A: The volunteers are there to support the spectators and players as well as to assist the smooth and enjoyable running of the tournaments – our specific roles could include anything from ticket duty, Centre Court stewarding, way-finding, support on the practice courts or providing hospitality or transport for the players. We also have to attend a selection meeting and a day long training session at the Nottingham Tennis Centre before the event to make sure we’re all prepared.
Q: Which players should we be looking out for in the men’s and women’s divisions? Any new rising stars?
A: It’s difficult to identify any one player but in the ladies tournament, possibly Victoria Azarenka and any of the British players. Similarly in the men’s tournament it will be interesting to see how well the members of the Davis Cup winning British team perform, such as Dan Evans, James Ward and Kyle Edmund.
Q: What were your highlights of 2015’s competition – can we expect the same level of excitement and drama this year?
A: I think the excitement and drama will be as high if not higher this year. All of the professional tournaments I have watched in Nottingham over the past 11 years have always been exciting and have often thrown up unexpected results.
The highlights for me of the 2015 tournaments were seeing how well the British ladies played, particularly Johanna Konta who has since made rapid progress up the world rankings. The players put in so much hard work and dedication, playing late into the evening most nights. However, a personal highlight was seeing my youngest son as ball boy on Centre Court.
Q: How does Nottingham Tennis Centre shape up as venue? Will our international visitors be impressed by its facilities?
A: The Nottingham Tennis Centre is an excellent venue for professional tennis tournaments and has been so for many years. The first professional tennis tournament that I went to see there was The Federation Cup in 1991. I know the players thoroughly enjoy playing at Nottingham and especially appreciate the high quality grass courts for their even bounce. Virtually all the top players have at one time or another in their career played at Nottingham and many return to participate in further tournaments.
Q: We bet you’re as thrilled as we are to have Nottingham named as England’s official Home of Sport. Are there any other sports events you’re looking forward to in Nottingham this year?
A: Having lived in Nottingham all my life, I am very proud of the city’s excellent sporting credentials. The European Archery Championship is an exciting new event for Nottingham and the annual Ice Hockey Elite League Play Off Finals are always an excellent weekend.
I am also looking forward to the One Day Cricket Internationals at Trent Bridge this summer and the new national badminton team/league at Nottingham University has also been a very interesting addition to the Nottingham sporting calendar.
Q: What do you and the family like to get up to in Nottinghamshire when you’re not playing tennis?
A: Most of my family time in Nottingham is spent supporting my two sons sporting activities. With my eldest son now at Loughborough University, this is mainly focused on my youngest son – be it his rugby, football, cricket or badminton! However, now I am retired from teaching, I have more time to enjoy walking in the beautiful Nottinghamshire countryside.
The WTA International Women’s Event takes place from Saturday 4 – Sunday 12 June
The ATP World Tour 250 Men’s Event takea place from Saturday 18 – Saturday 25 June
*Calls cost 7p per minute from a BT landline. Other networks may vary and calls from mobiles may be considerably more. Lines are open 7 days a week 8am until 10pm.