TENNIS ace Ryan Peniston returned to his roots to rally with youngsters aiming to follow in his foot-steps.

Peniston - who is currently ranked 179 in the world and faced Andy Murray at Wimbledon in the summer - grew up playing at Southend Lawn Tennis Club from a young age.

And he was delighted to be back at the Broadclyst Gardens based club to try out the new courts and hit with a number of talented young players.

“It’s been amazing coming back here,” said Peniston.

“I used to play here with dad when I was a kid every day basically.

“It’s really nice to come back to my roots and see everyone having a good time enjoying their tennis.

The new courts look amazing so it’s exciting for the club and for the kids it’s especially good.”

Southend Lawn has spent £80,000 on the four new courts but it was not just the standard of the surface which impressed Peniston.

“There are really good players here,” said Peniston.

“They’re talented and they were enjoying themselves which is the main thing.”

Peniston has also been enjoying himself in 2023 and is pleased with the season he has had.

“I’ve been really happy with the year I’ve had and I’m excited for next year too,” said Peniston.

“Playing Andy Murray on Centre Court was obviously the highlight but overall I’ve had a great year. I’m very lucky to do what I do and I’m looking forward to next year now.”

With that in mind, Peniston will head off to Australia later this week.

And he will make the trip having inspired the next generation of players.

Southend Lawn coach Charlie King said: “It was great to see the club so busy, with all courts in use by the juniors throughout the afternoon.

“It was brilliant to have Ryan come back and hit with all of the kids.

"They all had a great time and all left inspired.”