Meet the tennisMAD Team

Paul Butcher: LTA Level 5 Licensed Coach

Paul relocated to the Devon from Yorkshire in the eighties, following a highly successful playing career. Having peaked inside the UK’s top 20 for the under-21 age bracket, Paul focused his passion for tennis on coaching, and, with tireless commitment, has helped transform the South Devon Tennis Centre from a small four-court outdoor centre into one of the South West’s leading tennis venues.

With 2015 marking Paul’s thirtieth year at SDTC, his coaching resume boasts unrivalled success in the region, including upwards of 50 county champions nurtured under his and tennisMAD’s guidance.

Paul’s motivation and passion for the sport remains as strong as when he began coaching decades ago.

In 2015 Paul was shortlisted for Aegon National Club Coach of the year, narrowly missing out on winning this award. For a coach based out of Devon for the past 30 years to be given this level of recognition is a testament to Paul's reputation nationally as a top class tennis coach.

Ben Knight: LTA Level 4 Licensed Coach

A professional coach of fifteen years, Ben has experience of running highly successful coaching programmes both in the UK and overseas. Following learning his trade under elite coaches in the UK, Ben moved to Australia, and soon became the lead coach at the Eastern Suburbs Tennis Club, in Sydney. The role required Ben to manage the work of several coaches at one of the largest tennis clubs in Oceania’s biggest city.

Upon returning to the UK, Ben immediately began to forge his own programme in Plymouth. Based at the Esporta club (now the Virgin Active, Devonshire), he created the Plymouth Academy of Excellence, nurturing the county’s top performance players.

In forming ‘KGS Tennis’ back in 2006, Ben created the first Plymouth based tennis company. Working in partnership with local schools and authorities, KGS Tennis provided an extensive programme for juniors over multiple sites, including delivering lessons as a part of school curriculum, before joining forces with Paul in 2010.

Since 2010 Ben has worked tirelessly and on top of all his tennis coaching duties, he has trained hundreds of teachers about how to deliver high quality tennis lessons in school environments working as a tutor for the LTA.

He has also set up and developed tennisMAD's sister company; High 5 sports & activity camps which has proven so popular at it's base of Stover school. The same style of holiday camp provision is being introduced at SDTC, Ivybridge to allow families from the South Hams to take advantage of these fun and exciting programmes throughout the school holidays.

Rhys Dunford: LTA Level 3 Licensed Coach

Age: 22

Current Qualifications: Level 3 LTA

Number of years coaching: 8

Where do you currently coach? Ivybridge, as one of the key personnel in the Ivybridge Tennis Academy and Tavistock where I started my tennis playing days and am now the head coach.

Numbers of years you have played: 14

Who bought you your first tennis racquet? Grandmother aka. Jean 'the machine'

Who is your tennis great/idol?
Roger Federer/Paul Butcher

What is your tennis philosophy?
To work hard, train and remember pain is temporary but pride is forever

Rhys is also now a regular fixture in the Devon Men's County Cup side and also works closely with the Junior Team set up and is assistant coach for the U18's Devon Team.

Mia Loye: LTA Level 2 Licensed Coach


Current Qualifications: Level 2 LTA

Number of years coaching:

Where do you currently coach? Ivybridge, where I work as the mini tennis coordinator and run the Ivybridge Tennis Academy, Mini Performance programme.

I started my tennis playing days in Torquay before moving to the Academy in Ivybridge and attending the Community College.

I have been Devon County Champion and have represented Devon in both the Girls and now the Ladies age groups.

As a player who came through the Academy set up at Ivybridge, I was able to experience first hand how great it was and I am very motivated to help other young players to get the same opportunities I had.

I am also very keen so encourage more girls into the sport as I feel there are a lack of younger girls getting involved and it is a really great sport for women to play.

Numbers of years you have played:

Who bought you your first tennis racquet? My Gran, she also bought me a lot of my tennis outfits!!

Who is your tennis great/idol?

What is your tennis philosophy?

Dan Cole: LTA Level 2 Licensed Coach

Age: 25

Current Qualifications: LTA Level 2, Sports Journalism Graduate, Competition Organiser, Cardio Tennis Instructor

Number of years coaching: 7

Where do you currently coach? Head Coach at Mannamead Tennis Club and also Ivyrbridge and Storehouse LTC

Numbers of years you have played: 17

Who bought you your first tennis racquet? Mother

Who is your tennis great/idol?
Roger Federer

What is your tennis philosophy? I like working with people of all ages, developing new young players and creaking passionate sportspeople, I love the sport, following, teaching and competing.

I am currently studying a sports journalism degree at Marjon University and have been both playing for and Captaining their Men's Tennis Team during my time there.

In recent years, I have developed a strong interest in working with adult groups as well as the juniors and now run some very popular adult sessions on a weekly basis.

Alex Robinson

Age: 32

Current Qualifications: Level 2 LTA Tennis, Level 2 Cricket, Level 2

Basketball, BSC Sports Management, PGCE.

Number of years coaching: 17

Where do you currently coach? Callington, Ivybridge

Numbers of years you have played: 12

Who bought you your first tennis racquet? Me

Who is your tennis great/idol?
There are too many to choose from!!

What is your tennis philosophy?
“Got to be in to win it”

As well as my tennis coaching duties, I also run the junior section of Callington Cricket Club and am a full time teacher at Callington Community College. During the school holidays I work a lot within the high 5 sports camps at both Stover School and more recently SDTC, Ivybridge.

Les Youens: PTR Qualified Coach

Age: 52

Current Qualifications: PTR

Number of years coaching: 7

Where do you currently coach?

Numbers of years you have played: 39

Who bought you your first tennis racquet? Mother

Who is your tennis great/idol?
John Mcenroe

What is your tennis philosophy?
To play for as long as possible to a ripe old age but to encourage others to have the same or better opportunity that I have had. I want to continue to learn and pass on my knowledge to others. Spreading the word is what is needed to inspire the next generation of players to the sport.

Colin Knight: Competitions Co ordinator and ABTO member

Since Qualifying as a Referee back in 2010, Colin has been a regular fixture on the junior competition circuit. Overseeing and helping set up competitions from Mini Red through to Grade 3 Regional Events.

As a retired teacher and father to 2 'tennis kids' Colin is very aware of what is required to run a good junior event and with his teaching and sports background is also able to offer guidance and support to both players and parents alike.

Debbie Freeman: Competitions Administrator and ABTO member

Debbie has also recently qualified as a tournament referee. She is always busy behind the scenes, keeping in contact with parents and ensuring everyone knows about all upcoming competitive events.

With a son who still plays a high level of competitive tennis, she is our tournament Guru and can offer plenty of useful advice and tips to any parents who are 'new' to the complex world of junior tennis and ratings/rankings!

We are sure you will start to see more of Debbie sat behind the referee's desk in the upcoming months so be sure to say hi!

Gail Daniels: Finance

If it is related to finance, then Gail is the lady you will be speaking to. Another tennis mum of a motivated and talented youngster, Gail has the thankless task of keeping up together with everyone's ever changing programmes and requests.

Rachel Clifton: Administration

Rachel has been a part of the tennisMAD team for over 3 years now. Starting out as an apprentice and with no background in tennis, Rachel has blossomed into somewhat of an expert. Rachel not only knows everything there is to know about whats going on in the crazy, wacky and extremely busy world of tennisMAD. She is also becoming a pretty good touchtones player and has even stepped out onto a full court in recent weeks so watch this space!!

Dr. Camilla Knight: Resident Sports Scientist

Dr. Camilla Knight is a lecturer in the Applied Sport, Technology, Exercise and Medicine research centre, in the College of Engineering at Swansea University. Prior to starting at Swansea University, Camilla completed a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science and an MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Loughborough University, UK. She then moved to the University of Alberta in Canada to complete a PhD in Sport Psychology. Camilla’s research interests are concerned with understanding and enhancing the psychosocial experiences of children in sport, with a particular focus upon the influence of parents. Camilla is particularly interested in understanding the experiences of parenting children involved in sport and identifying the support parents require within the youth sport environment.She has conducted research on this topic in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and has produced a number journal articles and conference presentations on this topic. Camilla has also consulted with a number of national and international sports organisations regarding parental involvement in sport, providing recommendations for improving parental involvement in sport.