Sunderland's Luke O'Nien appears as special guest as Boldon Lawn Tennis Club open new courts

Sunderland footballer Luke O’Nien was a special guest as Boldon Lawn Tennis Club opened their new courts during a fun social tournament over the weekend.

The Black Cats midfielder lives close to the club and took time out of his schedule to participate in the event on Sunday morning.

In the last year the club has spent £93,000 of its own money to place down artificial grass courts, install efficient LED floodlights and buy a new defibrillator and cabinet.

O’Nien took to the court to hit with some of the club’s members in what was an enjoyable day for all involved.

Luke O'Nien with members from Boldon Lawn Tennis Club.

“It’s wonderful, I live around this area so I’ve walked past this place many times,” he told the Echo.

“Me and my family have fallen in love with the North East so to be asked to be involved today is special, especially just living around here and being involved somewhere that is local to me. I’m very humbled to be here.

Before stepping onto court, he added: “I haven’t played in a while, I used to play a little bit with my friends so I might be a bit rusty. I’ll have to have a quick warm-up before I get on there and embarrass myself.”

The new courts and facilities have been welcomed by the tennis clubs’ members, while the club provides events, leagues and coaching sessions for players of all abilities.

Luke O'Nien at Boldon Lawn Tennis Club.

When discussing the new facilities, Chair of the club Vivienne McFarquhar said: "We have saved up over many years and done a lot of fundraising activities throughout the year, social events, raffles and anything we can do to raise money.

“We have a lottery scheme as well within the club and eventually it mounts up.”

"It’s great for fitness and it’s a great social event as well. We have got players who are in their late 80s and early 90s still playing because you can play doubles and play so that it’s not terribly strenuous.

“It’s absolutely open to anyone, you don’t have to have done it at school or have prior experience.

“It’s amazing how quickly people do improve.”

Head coach Stephen Gilbert added: “To get this investment for the new courts it just brings a new life to the club.

“We’re a very lively club, central to the community and it just means the world to us to have facilities that really shout out across the county, not just here in Boldon.

“We have kids from age four all the way up to adults in their 90s playing from all different levels from complete beginners to national-level players.

“A couple have just got rankings on the international rankings scene.

“Give it a go. First of all, get yourself on court.

“There are no boundaries to playing tennis. We’re not an expensive club to play at, it’s £30 per year for a kids membership so you can get on court and play tennis for relatively cheap.”

You can find more details about Boldon Tennis Club’s coaching sessions and memberships online at clubspark.lta.org.uk/boldonltc.