Meet Thornbury's 'tennis mum' to the stars

October 21 2021
Meet Thornbury's 'tennis mum' to the stars

A FORMER Thornbury school head teacher has lifted the lid on her time as 'tennis mum' to some of the sport's leading British stars.

Janet Raven would probably still be working with Britain's top junior players had the coronavirus pandemic not cut short her role. 

She might have been in California in October to watch Cameron Norrie, a former charge and England's new number one, win the men's singles at Indian Wells – the first Briton to do so.

Janet said: "He's on fire this year – he even has an outside chance of making the year-end finals."

Had she been there – rather than watching on television – Janet, 64, could also have helped pick up Emma Raducanu (below), who crashed out in the first round.

Defeat for Britain's new top woman player marked the end of a whirlwind month for the 18 year old, another of those to whom Janet was a "tennis mother" in her role as pastoral care supervisor for British Tennis. 

Describing Raducanu's achievement in becoming Britain's first female Grand Slam winner for over four decades, Janet said: "What made Emma's US Open win so exceptional is that her level went up and up so quickly.

"It was just fantastic. I could see her getting better and better. 

"I was really chuffed for her when she won and also for all the other people who worked with her behind the scenes."

Janet believes she must have worked with more than 300 young people at the national tennis centre at Roehampton.

She described her eight years as pastoral care supervisor as "the world's most fun job".

The former head teacher of Crossways Junior School was "quite sad" when the role came to an end last year.

Along with so much else, the pandemic prevented promising young players from getting together to train.

Janet with former British No 1 Johanna Konta

Janet, a "proud Scot" who grew up not far from Andy Murray's birthplace in Dunblane, worked with players from nine to 18 at the centre, close to Wimbledon, and at international training camps.

Her role required her to look after players when they were away from home, helping them with everything from homesickness or schoolwork to getting over sporting disappointments, which is where Tiny Tim came in – Janet would hold up the little teddy bear, with Union flag paws, ears and tie, if she thought young players were getting over-anxious on court. 

She said: "Everybody wanted to have their picture taken with him."

Janet is proud of the work she did with Norrie, Raducanu and her predecessor as Britain's top female player, Johanna Konta, as well as others of whom we have yet to hear.

But now the former music teacher is focussed on a project closer to home.

Janet, a member of Thornbury United Reformed Church, said: "All my working life I have organised Christmas concerts and I'm thinking we could raise some money for charity from carol singing in December."