Our #PeopleoftheSU series is back, and this time we are introducing you to Edinburgh University alumna Christine Windmill, former Tennis Scotland President and senior LTA volunteer.
“When I was younger, I started playing tennis recreationally around the age of 10 and started getting training as I really took to it. At 15, I had an exceptional year and made it to junior Wimbledon, although I didn’t do awfully well. However, there I met someone (the girl who beat me!) who went on to Edinburgh University and studied Law. Eventually when I moved up from Sussex and got to freshers week I joined the tennis society and got into the team because of her. It was so much fun being involved in a sport – we played both Scottish and British universities as well as the local Edinburgh club leagues. I ended up being asked to join the blues committee which involved a bit more than just playing - there was volunteering and administration. I also was on the university charities committee where I really enjoyed doing fund-raising and events. All this involvement seemed just as fulfilling and relevant as the often more stressful academic and social diary!
After university I ended up playing tennis more for fitness and fun and organising it around work during my time in London. When my husband and I would travel for work I would play tennis abroad. I remember one specific time when we went to Nigeria and I played in a local tournament and got to the finals of the doubles, earning $750. Becoming a coach after university was a rewarding experience – I gave as many hours to it as I could despite working full time, and when I had a child I pulled back from work to give myself more time to coach. When I came back to Scotland to work I up’d my coaching qualification but passed on best juniors to Judy Murray, who was Scottish National Coach at the time. People were needed to set up tournaments and events, so I also got into refereeing – I worked on tournament directing, finding sponsors, and trying to get things off the ground for youngsters to play. As in my university days, I really enjoyed doing charity events – I organised a centenary programme to get lots of people together and we used Edinburgh University to host a dinner!
Tennis is the perfect exercise and competition for all ages and abilities. I still play in a club team, for my county and I represent Scotland in my age category! I’ve always found it impossible to not keep on playing, but I have had the taste of the events side of it from my university days and got involved with more volunteering when people asked me. I was initially a volunteer who helped run tennis within the county but became a member of the Tennis Scotland board and thought it would be challen
ging to support the governance and national growth of the game. Then I got asked to be the president of Tennis Scotland and was very lucky to be in that role when Andy Murray won his first Wimbledon title! I became involved in the LTA – Lawn Tennis Association – and represented Scotland there. As I’ve moved on and gotten older, I now represent seniors tennis helping provide playing opportunities for anyone over 35! Recently I’ve organised a team of 85-year-old women ready to play for Team GB at world events.
Throughout my life, I honestly haven’t found many challenges in terms of gender - either within tennis or work, but I’ve found the main challenge to be time as tennis has always been more of a volunteer area for me. It’s exciting now to see the tremendous growth in so many aspects of sport’s facilities and access… but it’s still often up to volunteers to spark and sustain participation, I still seem to have more ideas and enthusiasm than I have time (and maybe as I’ve gotten older, energy too). But I still want to make tennis the number 1 sport for over 35s, and we have been working at all sorts of initiatives to get people back to playing, or even playing more. Padel tennis has been introduced – it’s a good game to pick up that’s very easy to get going with, and we want to be able to get the balance of the recreation with competition.
For me, I aim to keep getting better at tennis! I still play with the woman who beat me all those years ago at Junior Wimbledon, and together we won the over 65s British doubles, also at Wimbledon! We all work hard on and off court, but I really enjoy putting in that effort.
‘For Seniors Tennis GB, the game for life.’”