Shane Cooke with outgoing Tennis Ireland chairman Cliff Carroll
Carrick-on-Suir man Shane Cooke of Castleview Lawn Tennis Club is to be the next president of Tennis Ireland.
He is president elect of the national organisation and will succeed current president Clifford Carroll in the third week of June.
Shane only took up tennis when he was in his thirties. He served as Castleview Lawn Tennis Club's PRO, tennis captain and tournament director, played Munster League for his club and achieved a level one coaching qualification in 2010.
He served as Munster vice-president of Tennis Ireland for a two-year term and subsequently Munster president. He has been on the board of directors of Tennis Ireland for two years and this led to his nomination as President-elect of Tennis Ireland.
Shane's involvement in Munster Tennis arose out of his keen interest in the grading of players. Munster president Clifford Carroll suggested he get involved with the Munster Branch ten years ago and he hasn't looked back.
He soon became convener of the directory committee looking after players’ grading across the province.
He also served as senior selector for the Munster Senior Interprovincial team for the last four years. This role involved putting structure to the whole process around team selection and training.
“One of the highlights of that time has to be the restructuring of our junior tennis," he said.
" As with the seniors, there was little or no pathway in junior tennis in the province. However, we developed a programme and appointed a performance director and a regional coordinator to work with clubs and coaches throughout the province. This very successful performance programme saw Munster winning both the U-14s and U-18s Inter-Provincial titles in 2018.”
Shane is delighted to be chosen as Tennis Ireland's next president.
"It’s a life achievement for me and I never imagined that this opportunity and honour would come my way,” he said.
He is optimistic about the future of the tennis in Ireland.
"We have some great young talented players in this country with the likes of our very own Zach Murphy doing so well and hopefully young players like Zach will progress at European level and compete in the junior grand slams and more.”
“The number of people playing tennis is growing across the country with participants aged from as young as 3-4yrs right up to 80 and over.
“We are always going to be under pressure from other sports like hurling, football, soccer and rugby but my goal is to help make tennis more accessible to everyone especially young kids."
Shane is very proud that he comes from a small rural club and believes the election of a representative from such a club is hugely significant.
“For far too long tennis was viewed as an elitist sport but thankfully that has now changed.
“Tennis clubs are for everyone and we now have members from right across the spectrum: employed, unemployed, business owners, factory workers, teachers, carpenters, plumbers and even the likes of me," he joked.
Shane pointed out that the Enjoy Tennis Project, which focuses on creating access for players with a disability, is growing. It's an initiative he will be putting his weight behind during his two-year term in office.