By Milly McEvoy, Sportsbeat  

A Sheffield tennis coach was shocked to scoop Performance Coach of the Year at the prestigious LTA Tennis Awards, presented by Lexus.  

Sam Salt, 34, from Graves Health and Sports Centre was recognised for his work establishing the NEXGEN Tennis Academy last April.  

Already, the academy has become one of the leading 10 and under performance programmes in the country.  

“It is absolutely amazing it has come as a big shock,” he said at the awards ceremony at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton. “I am absolutely inspired and extremely proud.  

“It is my second time coming here and when you look round the room there are so many amazing people that put so much effort into their areas and it is incredible to be here with them and a really special moment.   

"I just started playing at a club. I wasn’t working in tennis when I was a little bit younger and I just started coaching.   

“I very quickly took a passion for coaching even the juniors at the club that wanted to be a little bit better and really wanted to improve.  

“And then the LTA came and wanted to look after me and started to mentor me and help me through improving myself and fast forward a number of years constantly trying to get better you end up doing a performance role but really it is just about trying to help players improve every day.”  

The annual LTA Tennis Awards, presented by Lexus, highlight and celebrate the incredible achievements and contributions of people in tennis across Britain.  

First launched in 2015 with the help of former LTA president Cathie Sabin OBE, they recognise the vital work of volunteers, coaches, officials, and players dedicating their precious time and energy to the continual development and growth of the sport.  

Over the past nine years, the awards have illustrated the depth of service and talent within the tennis community and serve as an inspiration to others to get involved in the game.     

The winners, selected from more than 2,200 nominations across 15 different categories, have all been acknowledged for their outstanding contribution to tennis in 2023.  

Salt highlights the eagerness of the players to want to get better as being an inspiration for him to keep building his coaching career.  

The North Wales native is already thinking about how he can develop the academy further having already had three players become nationally ranked.  

He added: “When you meet other parents and players that are striving to be the best versions of themselves, it is inspiring for yourself to try and meet them where they are at.  

“To try and give them the person they need in their life and to try and max out their potential.   

“Having played sport myself, it is about meeting people who are passionate to help you improve, it is an amazing feeling to help others.   

“For me and the team at NexGen, we’ve only been going a couple of years and to meet so many like-minded coaches, parents and players that are all striving.  

“There is a real team ethic and it makes me incredibly proud. I don’t really go to work, I go into a tennis centre to work with incredible people and that in itself is unbelievable.   

“There is never a tough day when you are enjoying it so much.”  

LTA President Sandi Procter said: “The ceremony has been a tremendous celebration of the people that make our sport so special.   

“The incredible stories behind the finalists are so heart-warming to hear. The hard work and dedication of all the winners and runners-up too is unbelievable, and I am always so impressed by the selfless sacrifice of all the volunteers, officials, and coaches.   

“I have always been passionate about the grassroots and the awards are our way of highlighting the extraordinary contribution of the individuals and venues that help us open tennis up bringing new players and fans to the game.’’  

The annual LTA Tennis Awards, presented by Lexus.