Tennis coach finds perfect balance with his new job

Joe Cartledge is forging a career as a coach and operations manager. Picture OX64609: Damian Halliwell

Joe Cartledge is forging a career as a coach and operations manager. Picture OX64609: Damian Halliwell Buy this photo

First published in News

Joe Cartledge’s winning drop shots have taken him to America and back.

The top-ranked county player from Headington, Oxford, won a tennis scholarship to a California University, where he spent four years.

Now, the 27-year-old is forging a career as a coach and operations manager with Abingdon-based Premier Tennis, which runs sessions for people of all ages and abilities.

Mr Cartledge, who attended Windmill Primary and Cheney schools, started playing at the Bury Knowle and Florence Park tennis courts after his dad took his there from the age of seven.

After a trial at North Oxford Tennis Club, his talent was spotted and he was given coaching and competed at county and national level from the age of 13.

He explained: “I chose to study politics for my degree because I am really interested in the subject, but also because I found it quite straightforward, so it allowed me to still play four or five hours’ tennis every day.

“My tennis took me to the States, which was a great opportunity.”

After completing a masters in human rights law at Oxford Brookes University, he studied for the qualifications needed to practise as a lawyer.

But on finishing 12 months ago, he decided to make tennis his career instead and joined Premier, whose line-up also includes former British number one men’s doubles player James Auckland and ex-professional Jeff Hunter.

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The team runs sessions, in partnership with Oxford City Council, for as little as £4 from easily-accessible spots such as Florence, Hinksey and Bury Knowles parks.

Part of Mr Cartledge’s role as operations manager is to make contact with local schools and community clubs, including his old schools in Headington.

He said: “The opportunity arose to go to work for Premier and I decided to go for it.

“We try to make the programmes we run high-quality, accessible and on people’s doorstep.

“They are designed so that people of any age and ability can start playing tennis.

“The theory is that everyone has a tennis racquet in their cupboard, it’s about encouraging them to use it more often.

“Tennis is a fun sport and we try to get that across in sessions. It’s great to see there’s more interest in it than ever.

“Although I don’t play half as much as I used to, I still spend about 15 hours a week on a tennis court and play the odd match for North Oxford.

“I feel as though I’ve got the perfect balance.”

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