History of Northern Aces

Northern Aces began life as part of the original Team Manchester project, which was designed to encourage more gay people into sporting and other health related activities. A small group of friends got together in 1999 and started playing tennis on a regular weekly basis at the Sugden Sports Centre on the outdoor courts in central Manchester. News of the group started to spread and by 2002 a larger but still informal group were playing at a number of different venues across the region, arranging games in Manchester, Wigan and Bolton. It was at this time that the players were first successful in obtaining small grants to support the running of the group.

 

Barcalona Picture

 

We moved another step forward in 2003, a landmark year, with a number of players entering an out of town tournament for the first time. Participation in the tournament, which was the long established London International Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance (GLTA) tournament at Battersea Park, proved to be a great success and those who participated, returned with renewed enthusiasm and a new vision for GLBT tennis in Manchester.

Sportcity

Shortly afterwards the Tennis Centre was opened at Sportcity and the players identified an ideal venue to host regular tennis sessions. With increasing levels of interest in the group, a more formal structure was adopted, making it easier to plan sessions, manage the group's finances more effectively and enabling the group to benefit from amongst other things, the benefit of regular court bookings at a dedicated tennis venue.

Since then, numbers have grown rapidly and the group now has over 70 members. The group decided on a new name becoming known as Northern Aces and started organising its own internal social tournaments as well as regular weekly tennis sessions. Inevitably, the standard of play of many of the regular players improved and with newfound confidence more players began to participate in overseas tournaments on the GLTA tennis circuit. These proved to be great fun and members achieved considerable success, returning from competition with medals as well as a new social network of international tennis friends.

Far and wide

In August 2005, Northern Aces organised its own first 3-day international tournament. This proved a great success, becoming an even bigger and better event in 2006, with over sixty players (including representation from Belgium, France, Spain and Switzerland) participating in both singles and doubles competitions.  The tournament earned full GLTA status in 2009 and is now one of the most popular GLTA events in Europe.

With the introduction of professional tennis coaching for Northern Aces members and plans for additional sessions and a greater number of social activities, the Group is growing from strength to strength. Northern Aces can already boast as being the largest GLBT tennis group outside London, and is certainly one of the friendliest in the UK.

In recent years, Northern Aces has expanded its range of venues and from 2015 we now hold social sessions and competitive events at Sportcity, Bolton Arena, Urmston Tennis Club and David Lloyd Trafford.