The recent TV coverage of tennis at Wimbledon has prompted a local opportunist entrepreneur to capitalise on the renewed interest in the sport.
Fergal Donaghy from Annaghmore decided to make the investment after seeing two youngsters playing with tennis racquets near Greencastle last week during the Wimbledon fortnight.
“Sure, they were using them to belt lumps out of each other, but still, it’s the Wimbledon effect”, said an excited Donaghy. “The cubs are mad for the tennis in Tyrone, and once my tennis centre opens, they’ll be flocking in”.
Donaghy has already started work on a permanent venue for the centre and a search for much-needed equipment.
“Aye, we’re still sort of planning where the site’s going to be. The place I’m using at the moment is amazing with lots and lots of space and kids think it’s class, but apparently Asda say it’s ‘their’ car park. Sure, we’ll squeeze it into a corner of Garvaghey. They won’t mind. We don’t need much space because I’m going to use much smaller tennis courts. The size of existing courts has players run ragged. No wonder Andy Murray’s always got a face like a slapped arse. The poor lad’s knackered. No, we’re going to reduce the court by about three quarters. Revolutionary”.
“Thon Andy Murray’s a class act. Unbeatable. I didn’t get to see much of Wimbledon this year, but I didn’t have to to know that he’s won it again. He’s unbeatable that boy”.
Sourcing appropriate kit has so far has proved a challenge for the entrepreneur.
“I picked up all these class state-of-the-art wooden tennis racquets at a sale. The kids love playing with them. Imagine how much more they’ll like them once we put strings in them. Tennis racquet string’s supposed to be made from catgut, and we tried sourcing it locally, but Jays, it was some handlin’. The miaowing’s still ringing in my ears. I’ve still got the scratches. I’m not making that mistake again. A wee bit of blue rope will do the job just as well”.
Donaghy revealed exciting expansion plans for the future.
“Once this tennis centre’s open, I’ll do one in every county. Armagh’s first, then Fermanagh, probably in Enniskillen. I want to come up with a snappy name for it that combines ‘Enniskillen’ with ‘tennis’, but so far it’s got me stumped”.
Donaghy has also sent a fax to Cliff Richard asking him to stay away from the centre when it opens.
County Tyrone’s highest-ranked tennis player, Connor Muldoon from Dregish, has once again failed to make it to the final stages of Wimbledon.
Whilst official world rankings only include the top 1,000 players, it is believed that Muldoon, whilst number 1 in Tyrone, ranks approximately 6-millionth in the world. He tried to enter this year’s Wimbledon tournament on the wild card entry system, but was rejected on the grounds of not having the necessary funds to travel to London, lack of an authenticated playing record, and for not having a tennis racquet.
“I’m devastated”, said the forlorn player. “I really thought that this was going to be my year. With Roger Federal and the other one already knocked out, I could have gone all the way. If I had just got in in the first place”.
Muldoon was originally tipped to win the tournament by bookies in Omagh as somewhat of an outsider at odds of 10,000,000 to 1.
“That proves my point, see?” said Muldoon. “A 1 in 10 million chance. That means even the bookies think I’ve got a chance. And they haven’t even seen me play. I’m deadly. And thon strawberries and cream are quare. I’d be horsin’ them into them by the punnet. I’d fit right in. And I reckon I could take thon Venus brothers on and give them a right going over”.
Muldoon had plenty of advice to offer the current contenders.
“I’ve been watching the technique of thon Scotch boy Andy Murdoch, and he’s vulnerable”, he said. “When he hits the ball with the bat thing he’s not hitting it hard enough. He should hit it harder. I can hit the ball really hard. They’re my favourites. Bang! Like that. Mighty. And he needs to work on his tantrums. They’re not tantrums. I’ll show him tantrums. If thon referee called one of my hits out I’d drag him off his big ladder and cut the lining out of him. I’d stick that Hawkeye yolk right up his arse. That’d learn him”.
“I’m definitely going to win Wimbledon next year”, said a determined Muldoon. “Once I learn the rules there’ll be no stopping me”.
Tyrone’s first ever ball-boy at Wimbledon was sent packing today after both tennis players complained about his behaviour on court. Lionel Coyle, an 11-year old student from Donaghendry Road in Stewartstown, had been officiating in only his second Wimbledon game before being escorted off the centre court premises and straight onto a plane from London to Stewartstown. The game in question between Andy Murray and Tommy Robredo carried on regardless with many spectators unaware that one of the ball-boys had been replaced during a break in play.
“He was winding up both players from the start”, referee Peter Willis told us. “He’d loosened all the screws from Robredo’s chair before he sat down on it when he came in. I’d seen him fiddling with the chair beforehand. Then at the end of the first set he handed Andy Murray a banana skin as he’d eaten the banana himself. Worst of all, during the second set he imitated the noise women would make every time both players would hit the ball, like a high pitched squeal and shouting things like “take that ye bollocks” in a Scottish accent. Robredo nearly fought Murray over that comment. It was confusing the spectators and players.”
The players also accused Coyle of messing about during play, throwing them a towel if they asked for a ball. The final straw occurred when he was caught putting glue on the balls was lobbing at the players.
“I was wondering why the balls were sticking to the racquets”, Willis stated. “I kept ordering new balls and the same thing would happen. Then the young lad started firing the balls at wicked speed when the players called for one. A rocket hit Murray on his head and stayed there what with the glue on it. We’ll not be hiring any more ball-boys from Stewartstown again. Maybe Coagh, but not Stewartstown.”
Andy Murray has also requested the return of his favourite sweatbands that mysteriously went missing when Coyle was hoking through his bag looking for “an oul hanky”.