Paul Hope has admitted he did not expect to win the Coach of the Year awards at the inaugural West Suffolk Sports Awards.
The awards, which were held at St Edmundsbury Cathedral last Thursday evening with Olympic gold medallist Sally Gunnell in attendance, are organised by Abbeycroft Leisure to celebrate sporting heroes, volunteers, clubs, coaches, teams and individuals.
And one of those recognised at the event was Hope, whose Titan Tennis Academy run coaching schools at Exning Tennis Club. Hope’s commitment to helping young players improve resulted in him being nominated by 11 people for the Suffolk Sport Coach of the Year accolade and the judging panel were suitably impressed, picking him ahead of 16 other nominees.
“I did not know anything about the awards until I received an email a couple of weeks before telling me I had been nominated,” said Red Lodge resident Hope.
“When I was listening to what some of the other nominees had done, that was pretty impressive and I did not expect to beat them. It was a big surprise when my name was called out and I did not actually react until someone patted me on the back.
“I am very proud. The work is seven days a week a lot of the time, but I do not see it as a job — I love what I do.”
If there is one player that epitomises Hope’s mantra of being dedicated to those that are dedicated, it is Herbie Morris.
The Newmarket youngster, who turned nine earlier this week, linked up with Hope in September 2015 and is now on the verge of earning national recognition.
“Herbie is a special talent that over the next few months is going to make big strides,” added Hope.
“But it does not matter if I am at a tournament with a regional standard player or with an eight-year-old who is just starting out — they are all as important as each other.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about Titan Tennis Academy can do so by visiting www.titantennisacademy.co.uk or emailing email@example.com