There are many members of the Richmond Borough community but one of the most valuable members is Gordon Gibbins. He is a tennis coach that has worked in the area for many years providing great coaching to all age groups. I am with him now at the Marble Hill Park Cafe, opposite the courts where he currently coaches.

So, Gordon, have you been coaching tennis since you began working?

Gordon: No, in fact my first job was in banking, then i worked a few years in John Lewis. After that I moved into accountancy for 4 or 5 years. It was only in my late 20's that I did a degree. Soon afterwards I was trained to be a social worker for the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. During this time, around 1984, a job came up regarding a tennis development programme and they were advertising for a tennis coach. It wasn't something I was aiming for, just luck I guess.

Did you play as a kid?

Gordon: Actually, I played nearly every other sport apart from tennis. I was in the cricket team, the football team, a great track athlete, but tennis wasn't on the curriculum. I only began at 15!

Were you always freelance? 

Gordon: I started off in Hammersmith and Fulham from around 1984-86, working as a paid employee running all the tennis in all the community courts in the area with the help of around 8 other employees. In 1996 I left and went freelance. Then I moved to the borough of Richmond. I have had many jobs in the borough, from Carlisle Park in Hampton to Cambridge Park near Richmond Bridge. Currently, I am working at the Marble Hill Park tennis courts.

What would you prefer to work for, a company like 'Will to Win' or freelance?

Gordon: Company's like 'Will to Win' are very profit driven. They raise prices high and therefore less and less people are learning tennis. I have always worked in community tennis development trying to create as few barriers as possible to access tennis provision. It's important that it is affordable for everybody as it then becomes more popular. I was proven right as I dont think they survived very long!

Do you enjoy working as a tennis coach?

Gordon: Well I wouldn't have been working as one since 1984 if I didnt! I was national coach of the British Wheelchair Tennis Team at one stage and I had the opportunity to tour the world, which was very exciting. When I worked for Richmond I enjoyed leading the borough squad. As a solo coach, I am the master of my own destiny- I can choose what I want to be involved in!

Very true! Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today, good luck in the future with your coaching.

Tanmay Thanawalla, interview with Gordon Gibbins

Hampton School