AN AWARD-WINNING coach who has maintained links with Dunfermline Tennis Club was "lost for words" after scooping a major accolade.

Alessia Palmieri, who continues to play at the Bothwell Street club, and for whom she has provided coaching, was named as the Development Coach of the Year at the 2023 LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) Awards on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old, a Scottish Cup finalist with Dunfermline's ladies team in 2016, having been part of the squad that won the competition for an 18th time seven years previously, was one of three nominees for the prize, which was presented at Wimbledon, on day two of the championships.

She was recognised for her work with Fossoway Tennis Club, in her home village of Crook of Devon, where she has developed tennis programmes for kids and adults alike, growing its membership to around 370 last year.

With just one court, and no clubhouse facility, Alessia's efforts in offering a variety of tennis activity - including developing an after-school class to give children of all ages and abilities the chance to develop their game, driving 'tots' tennis classes, to bring children aged three and four into the sport, and overseeing initiatives to attract new adult players - saw her recognised by Tennis Scotland, in March, as their Development Coach of the Year.

The annual awards ceremony saw prizes in 14 categories, as well as additional accolades for players, presented, with Alessia being chosen as Development Coach of the Year ahead of Mark Thomas, from Wales, and Zane Cheeseman, from England.

A judging panel, including former US Open finalist and world number four, Greg Rusedski, helped decide the final shortlists, and Alessia was presented with her award by Great Britain Davis Cup captain, Leon Smith OBE, and Judy Murray, herself a former player with Dunfermline.

Speaking at the ceremony, Alessia, who also coaches with Adam Brown Tennis Academy, told Tennis Scotland's website: "I can't believe it. I'm over the moon – it's so nice to be noticed as a small club and for all that I've worked towards over the last few years. It’s amazing really. I am lost for words because I honestly didn't expect it.

"Covid brought me back to my home village. I'd always worked at bigger clubs, but there was no [coaching] programme at Fossoway and I just wanted to make tennis available for everyone in the community.

"We've now got cardio, we've got mums’ groups, everything. I just tried to bring it all together and give everyone the opportunity and then it just took off. I went full-time as soon as the courts reopened.

"Everyone wanted lessons with it being the first sport you could do [post-lockdown] so that helped. And then there’s the whole community spirit; I know all the parents and the kids, I know the best ways they learn. I can call on them at the last minute and say, 'Hey, do you want to do a little fun matchplay this weekend?’, or ‘do you want to come and try tennis 20-minute taster sessions?'.

"I know everyone in the village. We've got the whole school playing tennis, it's great."

Blane Dodds, Tennis Scotland Chief Executive, said: “Alessia is a great asset to Fossoway Tennis Club and the Scottish tennis community, and we are immensely proud of her for winning this award in recognition of the work she has done for her club and beyond."