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A Campbeltown man is in with a chance of netting one of the most coveted awards in Scottish tennis.
Professionally qualified tennis coach and Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) licensed referee Colin Hanbidge is one of two people shortlisted in the Official of the Year category at the Tennis Scotland Awards 2021.
This year, the award will celebrate the hard work and commitment of a referee, umpire or court supervisor who has gone above and beyond their role since Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in 2020.
Each year, Colin would typically spend 40 to 50 days refereeing at seven or eight major Scottish tournaments but, in the last year, he was only able to cover the Highland Tennis Championships in Pitlochry and the British Tour Giffnock Open.
Speaking to the Courier this week, Colin, 62, told of the challenges the pandemic presented in delivering these competitions.
He said: ‘People had to be able to access these tournaments from all over the UK so that meant clubs had to have tables set out two metres apart, every person coming into the tournament had to sign in online and book a table so they weren’t mixing with anyone else and people coming into the clubhouse to report a score had to wear masks. We had to be very careful and keep reinforcing these measures. It had to be safe. Not many of us managed to deliver any events. It was challenging but it could be done.’
A former housing manager, Colin gave up his job when he was 32 to take on a full-time position with Tennis Scotland, the independent governing body for tennis in Scotland. Before that, as well as playing and winning many major competitions, he volunteered his services as a coach.
Colin calls Prestwick his hometown but he has lived in several areas across the UK and has a long association with Kintyre, where he lived and worked for a time in the 1980s. He has been a member of Machrihanish Golf Club for 36 years.
He recently returned to live in Campbeltown, where he has been coaching youngsters at Campbeltown Lawn Tennis Club, something which he also did in the 1980s.
Colin is up against Olwyn Roy, who he knows well and with whom he has played mixed doubles in the past, in the Official of the Year category.
In total, 27 nominees have been announced across 10 categories, with the eventual winners subsequently securing a place at the LTA British Tennis Awards. Winners of the Tennis Scotland Awards will be announced online on April 23, with a ceremony to be held at a later date.
Blane Dodds, Tennis Scotland chief executive, said: ‘The response of the tennis community played a pivotal role in enabling the safe resumption of tennis in 2020. This year, more than ever before, it feels important to acknowledge exceptional contributions which are being made within our sport.
‘The Tennis Scotland Awards provide the perfect platform to celebrate the success stories of the year. With nominations of a particularly high standard, each shortlisted nominee should be very proud of their achievement.’