Husband and wife coaching team at All England Club help Wimbledon tennis championships run smoothly

All England Club head coach Dan Bloxham on centre court.

Dan Bloxham training with Martina Hingis

Lizzie Bloxham at work. Picture: WJTI.

First published in News
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Wimbledon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

A husband and wife team from Merton are among those working hard behind-the-scenes to ensure the smooth running of the Wimbledon tennis championships this fortnight.

As head coach for the All England Club, Dan Bloxham is the last person the players see before they walk onto court, and in one of his other roles, is also one of the most visible.

As master of ceremonies, Dan is the one who hands the trophy to the winners and runners up on finals day - a role he relishes.

His wife Lizzie Bloxham works in the Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative, which will see dozens of young players take to court 19 at the All England Club on Sunday to put their skills to the test.

Dan and Lizzie, who have two children together, live in Raynes Park, not far from community coach Jack Lane who also works at the All England Club.

Although they work at the same place, their schedules do not often overlap.

Dan said: "We're lucky.

"We work together which is very interesting to have a husband and wife combination and for both of us to be Raynes Park residents working at the All England Club, but it’s quite strange because we are always in different places at different times."

As head coach Dan is involved in all aspects of the tennis.

He looks after the male players, which includes getting them to their matches on time and making them feel like guests at the championships, as well as playing basketball and golf in the dressing rooms which are kitted out with a hoop, putting green and televisions which players have been watching the World Cup on in between games.

All year round he also runs the Wimbledon schools outreach programme alongside Lizzie.

Speaking about working with Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, Dan, 49, said: "It's interesting for me to see what they do and the routines they have because next week I can go to a school in Merton somewhere and I can pass that knowledge on to kids straight away.

"It's amazingly lucky to get that knowledge and pass it back so quickly to kids in the local area."

Dan still competes and is captain of the Surrey over-45 team.

At 18-years-old he was ranked in the top 32 in the country for his age group and has played in tournaments since the age of 13-years-old.

However that is old now, as young tennis players are competing from the age of seven, he said.

Dan said: "It's good for me to compete still. I can show the kids how it feels to be under pressure, to be nervous before a match.

"I understand all those things, whereas if you coach and don't play you forget.

"Andy [Murray] was trying hard but he couldn't get out of the place where he was.

"He was desperate to but sometimes the harder you try the more difficult it becomes."

The worst part about being head coach at the most famous courts in the world? Wearing proper shoes.

"If you wear fantastic tennis shoes all your life then for two weeks of the year someone gives you a pair of black shoes to wear you feel like you're walking on the pavement.

"It's totally different for me," he said with a grin.

Behind-the-scenes, even if a player has a disastrous game, everyone is very respectful.

Both other players and the staff at the grounds treat each other really well, which makes them good role models for youngsters, Dan said.

He added: "The dressing room is very calm they don't want any stress in there, it's very quiet."

The championships are due to end on Sunday.

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