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Tributes after death of Shropshire tennis legend and first female LTA president

By Rory Smith | Much Wenlock | Sport | Published: | Last Updated:

Shropshire's Cathie Sabin, the first female president of the Lawn Tennis Association and a legend of the sport, has died.

Cathie Sabin was the first female president of the Lawn Tennis Association

Cathie, who was in her early 70s and lived in Much Wenlock, was an international name in the world of tennis and someone who the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) said will be "sorely missed by all of us in tennis in Britain and beyond".

As well as being awarded an OBE in the 2016 New Year Honours List for services to tennis, the former Shifnal schoolteacher mounted scores of LTA awards, including Teacher of the Year in 2000, the National Volunteer of the Year in 2009, and the Carl Aarvold Award in 2019 for her outstanding contribution to tennis in Britain and internationally, to name a few.

As a PE teacher at Idsall Sports College, she taught England football stars Michael Owen, Sol Campbell, Joe Cole and Jermain Defoe as they attended the FA’s School of Excellence at nearby Lilleshall.

Cathie with Greg Rusedski at Bridgnorth Tennis Club in 2016

A player for the Shropshire senior team for many years, Cathie was also a long-standing member of Bridgnorth Tennis Club.

She was often called upon to mark momentous occasions for sports clubs throughout the West Midlands, including opening new courts at Wolverhampton Lawn Tennis and Squash Club in 2015 and at Bridgnorth Tennis Club in 2018.

A tribute by the LTA said: "It is impossible to do justice to quite what Cathie contributed to tennis since she first picked up a racket aged seven. But at the centre of it, lay a love of bringing more people into the sport and an incredible passion for recognising the people and volunteers from club to national level who help to grow tennis in Britain."

It added: "Cathie had an infectious positive attitude and an ability to engage with people from all walks of life – qualities that were admired by all those who knew and worked with her.

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"Quite simply, she will be sorely missed by all of us in tennis in Britain and beyond."

Cathie was a PE teacher at Idsall School in Shifnal

After making a huge impact supporting the delivery and growth of tennis at grassroots level, Cathie became an LTA councillor representing Shropshire in 2001. She then became a member and chairman of numerous committees and groups, before retiring as a PE teacher at Idsall School in Shifnal in July 2005 to concentrate on her roles in the LTA.

Cathie joined the LTA board in 2007, before becoming deputy president in 2011. She also represented the LTA on the Committee of Management of The Championships from 2010.

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In 2013, Cathie was named as the LTA’s first ever female president with her time in the role including Great Britain’s momentous Davis Cup win.

Her impact was not just limited to Great Britain, as at an international level, she was also a member of the ITF Olympic Committee from 2015.

The LTA said: "Cathie was a great friend to LTA colleagues. Her heart remained with county tennis and she considered clubs, schools and the county scene to be the bedrock of tennis and where the development of the game should be encouraged."

Rory Smith

By Rory Smith
Reporter - @rorysmith_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley, Telford.

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