Man holing Tennis Racket at Lincoln's Eastgate Tennis Club

Icy winds swarm the green tarmac upon which dedicated soles commit so much of their time. Amiable fronts are portrayed and polite laughs are shared over the, hardly amusing, nuances of sport. Hours drift by, sometimes quickly, often slowly. At the end of the day they go home.

The odd anomaly may wander into a derelict building to order a warm or cold drink, that will most likely be tepid. But to call this socialising, would be preposterous.

However, that derelict building has potential, space to make something of it. This has been proven in the last year by Eastgate Tennis, Squash and Bowls Club.

There is now life, prospects and a community.

Winter evenings can now be shared with good friends and the laughs are now genuine. The building is a warm and comfortable place, with welcoming arms to greet you at its doors. The transition from standard sports club, to thriving social club has been made.

This has been done largely through the determination and will of a new Social Committee, in collaboration with an aspirational coffee company.

‘Seven Districts Coffee’ is a Lincoln-based company, who own three coffee shops and one restaurant throughout the area. They are run largely through general manager, Emma Bateman.

When speaking of the relationship between Eastgate and Seven Districts, Emma said: “We were introduced to Eastgate about a year ago.”

She said that they were invited to build on what they already had, which was a small bar and what she described as “basic coffees”.

Emma sees how crucial the social community of the club is to people. She said: “It’s hard to make friends and it’s hard to be sociable. So, when you join a club I think half the time, unless you’re an athlete, you join the club because you want that social group.”

Emma agreed that it is a prosperous and mutually beneficial relationship for both parties: “I think, we bring a reason for people to come and sit in here.”

She added: “They bring us their ideas and their social nights. Everyone’s just really friendly…It’s a nice place to work. You get your regulars as well which is nice.”

An arial view of the club. Credit: Eastgate Tennis, Squash and Bowls Club
An aerial view of the club. Credit: Eastgate Tennis, Squash and Bowls Club

The other pivotal cog in the Eastgate wheel is the Social Committee. I spoke to both Karen Killick and Jo Nilson, who both play key roles in organising the events that the club hosts.

Karen explained that the committee only came into existence this year. She stated that the inspiration for the committee was born, initially, out of tragedy. She said: “I knew Julia Clark, who passed away not too long ago.”

“She would organise social events and I want to help bring some of her spirit back.”

Despite only being in its infancy, the committee has already put on two extremely successful events. Firstly, they held a Jazz Night on October 22nd, with a female jazz singer Miss Charlotte Porter. The event sold out and Karen is keen to do more.

Jo Nilson, was tasked with organising the Retro Disco event, which was held on November 11th.

When speaking of her reasons for hosting the event, Jo said: “Mainly because, for people about my age, like 40 plus, there isn’t any where for us to go and dance anymore.”

The Retro Disco was also a resounding success as it too sold out and made in excess of £200. Jo said that: “Everything we make in the first couple of years goes back in to social events,” as agreed by the committee.

Despite its immediate success, there is little to no reason to believe that it will slow down. The clubhouse is as lively as it has ever been and there are plans for more events to be organised and even a collaboration with the bowls section of the club.

Eastgate Tennis, Bowls and Squash Club is a true example of a thriving social club becoming a significant pillar within the community.

As said by Karen Killick: “The Future for Racquets Social Committee is looking good.”