Hawke's Bay professional coach Luke Donovan has received an early wedding present from Tennis New Zealand.
The Greendale club's head coach who will marry partner Gemma Wynne-Lewis next month won the club coach of the year award at TNZ's annual awards function in Auckland on Thursday night. It is the second time in less than 12 months a Greendale club member had won a national award - in January club president Sarah Shand won TNZ's volunteer of the year award.
"I'm stoked. It's the first time I have won the award and it's an honour," Donovan, 34, said after returning from Auckland yesterday.
Greendale's head coach for the past 16 years, Donovan was one of six nominees for the award. From the original six two finalists were selected and Donovan pipped Hugo Nurse-Strang from Canterbury's Te Kura Hagley Park club in Christchurch for the gong.
Nurse-Strang's club won the club of the year award.
Donovan, who has also coached in England and Dubai, believed his implementation of three national programmes, Hot Shots for juniors aged 3-12, Cardio Tennis for adults wanting high intensity training and Tennis Express for beginner adults, were the keys to his success.
"All three are aimed at getting more families and kids involved in the sport. The success of all three programmes at our club helped get our membership up to 421 this year and obviously Tennis New Zealand was impressed with that," Donovan said.
A former long-time Hawke's Bay No 1, Donovan still plays premier interclub when he can but stressed coaching is his priority these days. He won his ninth Hawke's Bay Residentials singles title last year but has yet to decide whether he will chase a 10th next year.
He praised the support he received from his club.
"Our club is extremely progressive and keen to get in behind new initiatives and programmes which will benefit the development of the club."
Twenty seven juniors from his club are playing in the Kennedy Park Hawke's Bay Junior Open which began yesterday and continues until Monday. Donovan is particularly keen to see how two of his most successful products, Andrew Shand and Albert Rocard, perform in the open grade.
"Albert and Andrew have returned home for the holidays from their respective scholarships in the United States. It will be interesting to see how they perform before returning to the States," Donovan said.
The open has attracted 150 players including 45 from Australia. The Hawke's Bay Lawn's club courts and Greendale club's courts are being used for the tournament.
Sarah Shand was thrilled with Donovan's success on Thursday night.
"It was well deserved. Luke always puts the club before himself," she said.
Tennis Eastern's development officer Sean Davies was equally delighted with the news.
"Luke and his assistant, Jac Wardrope, are doing a phenomenal job for tennis at Greendale and in Hawke's Bay," Davies said.