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The Anglo-German union hoping to inspire a clay revolution

St Mary's Tennis Club in Isleworth has teamed up with a leading clay court centre in Germany in a bid to get more Brits playing on the red stuff

Alan Mockford, chairman of St Mary's Tennis Club, with Davor Tomaciz, Goran Ivanisevic's former coach, at Konstanz Tennis Club, in Germany

For most British sports fans clay is what you make pots or pigeons out of - not something you want messing up a perfectly good game of tennis.

But a club in Isleworth - one of the few in this country to boast clay courts - wants to help us fall in love with the red dust which is so ubiquitous in the rest of Europe.

St Mary's Tennis Club, in Musgrave Road, has teamed up with one of the leading clay court centres in Germany, which is home to Davor Tomaciz, the former coach of Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic and Mirka Federer, wife of the Swiss great Roger.

Members of Konstanz Tennis Club, in the picturesque city of Konstanz, near the Swiss border, visited their English counterparts last summer to exchange tips on court maintenance and other matters.

They returned the favour by inviting St Mary's chairman Alan Mockford to see their facilities earlier this month.

"The members were so welcoming, the facilities were excellent and the location, beside lake and mountains, was stunning," he said.

"Clay is by far and away the best surface on which to play tennis. It's the surface on which all the top players learned to play and on which the majority of outdoor professional tournaments are played.

"However, there are hardly any clay courts in Britain, which is why Andy Murray made the decision aged 15 to move to Spain to learn to play on clay courts. If he had not moved he would probably not be a professional tennis player now."

Mr Mockford hopes the partnership with Konstanz Tennis Club will encourage more Londoners to swap the genteel, strawberries and cream scented world of lawn tennis for the bruising intensity and biting spin of its clay cousin.

To help young players develop a taste for the red stuff, Konstanz is offering free accommodation to youngsters (and their accompanying guardians) from St Mary's and other local clubs wanting to enter the international juniors tournament it hosts every August. As well as the chance to compete, eight to 18-year-olds will be able to train on the club's 13 clay courts.

* For more information about playing at St Mary's or signing up for the tournament in Konstanz, call 020 8890 0202 or visit

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