Shropshire’s Cathie Sabin OBE has been presented with the Carl Aarvold Award by the LTA in honour of her outstanding contribution to tennis in Britain and internationally.
Cathie was announced as the recipient of the 2019 award, regarded as the highest honour for individual services to tennis, at the LTA Tennis Ball in London on Saturday evening, receiving a standing ovation from a packed audience including County Associations, British tennis fans and international tennis guests.
It is impossible to do justice to quite what Cathie has contributed to tennis in over 60 years since she first picked up a racket aged seven. At the heart of it though lies a love of bringing more people into the sport and an incredible passion for recognising the people and volunteers from club to national level who help to grow tennis in Britain.
Cathie continued playing through school and then at college. It was while at college that she had the opportunity to coach in Newfoundland for a summer, leading to her love of coaching and teaching tennis to young people and starting her on a journey that would see her use her own passion for the sport to benefit others over the coming decades.
In her twenties, she moved to become a teacher in Shropshire, the County that she would go on to represent on court for many years as well as off court.
After making a huge impact supporting the delivery and growth of tennis at grassroots level, she became an LTA Councillor representing Shropshire in 2001. During the time since, she has been a member and Chair of numerous committees and groups, joining the LTA Board in 2007 and becoming Deputy President in 2011.
In 2013, Cathie was named as the LTA’s first ever female President, with her time in the role including Great Britain’s momentous Davis Cup win and also seeing her given an OBE for Services to Tennis. Her impact has not just been limited to Great Britain, and at an international level she has been a member of the ITF Olympic Committee since 2015.
Despite all of this, Cathie’s heart remains with County tennis, and particularly with Shropshire. She passionately believes clubs, schools and the County scene to be the bedrock of tennis and where the development of the game can be encouraged and developed.
It was a desire to recognise this that was behind her instigating the introduction of the LTA Tennis Awards in 2016, acknowledging the people and volunteers from club to national level who help to grow tennis in Britain. Among everything she has done for the sport, it is Cathie’s incredible passion for this that is regarded by many within the game as having left an indelible impact on tennis in Britain.
Speaking on stage after being announced as the recipient, Cathie said: “I am completely awestruck to have received this award. I’ve always said that everything I did I did because of the support given to me by everyone else involved in tennis. I’ve met some wonderful, wonderful people on the journey, and it is the British tennis family who have made it possible for me to receive this award.”
David Rawlinson, Deputy President of the LTA, presented Cathie with the award and said: “There could not be a more worthy recipient of this year’s Carl Aarvold Award than Cathie Sabin. Her contribution to tennis from a lifetime of dedication to it as a player, coach, volunteer, administrator and figurehead is truly remarkable. Everything Cathie has done has been about helping others – tennis is Britain is lucky to have her and we hope this award demonstrates just how loved she is, and how much we appreciate everything she has done.”
First presented in 1982 and named after former LTA President Sir Carl Aarvold, the Carl Aarvold Award is the highest honour the LTA gives to recognise individual services to tennis.
Cathie’s name now joins an illustrious Roll of Honour that features famous tennis names such as multiple Grand Slam title winners Virginia Wade, Ann Jones and Peter Norfolk, former Wimbledon tournament referee Alan Mills, and legendary tennis commentators Dan Maskell and John Barratt.
Simon Jones, the Chair of Tennis Shropshire, was delighted to be in London to see Cathie collect her prestigious award.
He said: “I was fortunate to be there when Cathie was presented with the award and I have to say what a proud moment it was, not just for Shropshire, but for me personally having known Cathie for over 25 years.
“To see how everyone in the room acknowledged the award was just fantastic.”