• Dan, our app-man, talks climbing and coding

    Posted in upmysport on November 24, 2014

    We thought we’d introduce the world to a member of the upmysport team- Dan Hough, who’s been tinkering away on the upmysport app for the past year or so.  We chat tech, climbing, and what the future could have in store for coding..

    dan hough

     MC: So Dan, how did you get into coding/app design?

    DH: I started when I was about 12, when a very liberal teacher decided to go off the curriculum and teach us html for a day. One thing led to another to another to another, and when I did computer science at Sheffield Uni I learned some of the more advanced parts of programming-  it became a career from there.

    We know from your Strava updates that you go on the odd run, but how seriously do you take jogging? Do you do any other sports?

    Uhhh, I take joggoling, jogging, well, actually, I like to call it running, thank you very much. I try to go pretty fast, I think I take it seriously enough to try to get to 20 minutes for 5 km, and I’m not quite there yet, but I tend to go 3 times a week on a 5-10k run.

    I’m one the few people you meet who takes their stretching quite seriously, and general strength work to do with running. So maybe quite seriously? In terms of other sports, I love climbing, bouldering in particular- the kind where you haven’t got ropes.

    I do that three times a week at The Arch climbing wall in Bermondsey and I recently went to France to do a bit of bouldering, which was awesome.

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    Is it me, or do loads of people in the tech scene seem to be into climbing?

    It’s not you. That’s very true. If you go to the bouldering walls and speak to a random person, there’s a 50-50 change that they’re in a tech company. And I think its because a lot of geeks like to approach bouldering from a problem-solving perspective. Climbing is all about problem solving and so is bouldering, so there’s a tonne of cross over.

    And, nerdy folk like me often aren’t great at team sports, but they love socializing, so, it’s a good way to do a sport, meet people and discuss a challenge!

     You volunteer at Code Club, how’s that been?

    Really rewarding, I know that that’s an obvious thing to say but it really has. It’s taught me a lot about how children learn, and interact with each other. I haven’t spent much time with kids since I was one and, its amazing how quickly they grasp the basics of it. It can be quite stressful- they’re a handful, but I really enjoy it.

    Do you think coding will be become part of mainstream education and be taught alongside Geography and Politics etc.?

    I think it’ll be part of main steam education but won’t be taught quite as ubiquitously as Geography and Politics. It’ll probably be somewhere between, like, German and Maths. Well, no, I guess German is quite popular.

    Ok, a lot of people think that it’s gonna be as ubiquitous as maths, but I can’t see it getting that popular. I think it’s going to be one of these things that gets taught a bit in primary school, and if kids enjoy it, they’ll continue it at secondary school, but if they don’t, they won’t.

    I think you can kinda tell when you’re about ten whether you’re interested in programming or not. And I can’t see it being a sudden switch, but its definitely on the up, and needs to be.

    The Arch in Bermondsey

    The Arch in Bermondsey

     Do you think you can gain something from learning the basics of coding, even if you don’t want to be a developer?

    I think so. I teach programming at a company called General Assembly, and the thing that I always tell my students is that even if they’re not in it to have a career in programming learning about it can help change the way they think about basically everything.

    If you start approaching the world from a programmers perspective, you can see everything in a much more logical manner. And you can see the way that systems work in a much more intricate way. I don’t just mean computer systems- any kind of system at all- so like, the kind of systems that operate public transportation or those that help a company function. Knowing a bit of programming can really help you understand how complex systems interact.

    How do people get into it if they’re curious?

    A good first step is to check out websites like Code Academy and Treehouse and if you want to get serious about it then maybe check out a course at somewhere like General Assembly.

    Lastly, if you could moonlight as a pro in one sport, what would it be?

    *Long pause*  A pro in any sport? Skydiving.  Does that count as a sport?

    I don’t know, can you do that, competitively?

    I don’t know. Do you mean like professional competitive kinda person?

    Yeah

     Ah, well its gotta be snowboarding- that’s such a cool sport to be professional at.

    * Nicola interjects *

    NB: You can be a professional skydiver- one of the champions lives in our village. Do you mean professional as in you earn a living from it?

    Well, I meant, competitively. 

    NB: Yeah that’s definitely a thing too.

    Oh. 

    DH: In that case I stick with my original answer!

    Check out Dan’s blog and Twitter to keep up with all the exciting stuff he’s up to. And if you fancy having a go at climbing, we’ve got some great climbing instructors who can show you the ropes!

     

     

  • upmysport go off-road

    Posted in startups on October 20, 2014

    So the upmysort team had a pretty sweet friday.

    We started the day in style with some Bacon and Egg Naans from Dishoom, arguably the best breakfast in town, before strolling over to the Olympic Park.

    But before we got there had second and third breakfast at the awesome E5 Bakehouse.  You’ve gotta refuel if you’re to perform at your best..

    Mobot/ Lightening Bolt/ ambiguous

    Lightning Bolt/ Mobot/ ambiguous

    Having Carbo/Caffeine/Chocolate Brownie-loaded we checked out the Olympic Park. Beautiful sunshine, and for those of us who had been at the Olympics two years before, great memories. We headed over to the Velodrome where it’s pretty safe to say team GB smashed it in 2012.

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    It was time for action. At the Lee Valley Velo Park there are all sorts of cycling antics you can get involved in. You can ride on the track, road, BMX park, velodrome or go  mountain biking. Whilst deliberating which to go for we suddenly realised that Neil was nowhere to be seen..

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    Mountain Biking. No- brainer.

    With different trails of varying difficulty- blue, red and black, there really is something for everyone. We explored the trails for a couple of hours, Michael tried to do a black trail and fell off and broke his bike, and London delivered a bit of sunshine. All good.

    As the afternoon drew to a close we stopped off at the local Crate Brewery.

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    Delicious pizzas, beers and a great spot right on the river. It was a lovely opportunity to welcome Antonia to the team and enjoy all being in the same city. We meandered back to our Old Street home feeling good.

    There’s something hugely rewarding about trying something new– especially when you’ve got someone who knows the ropes and can make sure you enjoy the experience as much as possible.

    Follow us on twitter, Like us on Facebook, and say hello if you’ve got a sport or activity you think we should try..

     

  • New Digs and New People

    Posted in upmysport on July 4, 2014

    We thought we’d bring you the low down on what’s been happening at upmysport HQ.

    We have a new office, new team members and an ever-growing community of brilliant instructors. Our London office is now based at TechHub; an exciting environment in which several young companies are coming up with cool solutions to a wide range of problems .

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    Our new office overlooks London’s Silicon Roundabout. The area is now home to over 5000 tech companies. The sun has been shining and we’ve been settling in nicely.

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    It places us squarely in the middle of the London’s buzzing start-up scene whilst also providing us with a little bit of peace (the table tennis room has hosted many a meeting.)

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    George works on his backhand

    We share the space with several other start ups. Companies doing all sorts of things- ranging from food to real estate, from lifestyle to education.

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    And our team is expanding. Despite a broken elbow one of our new interns, Hetty, is taking names with her paddle..

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    Hetty dominating the table

    And our other new intern, Michael, is desperately trying to live up to his self-proclaimed title ‘The King of Spin.’

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    Michael, not so much

    We’re also hiring. We’re looking for an experienced software engineer and team lead to work with the CTO and help lead the current distributed development team.

    We’ve got lots of exciting things to share with you this summer. But before we do, I think we’re popping out to get some ice cream.

  • Boris Johnson, Sochi Olympics and Ski Instructors

    Posted in skiing on February 25, 2014

     

    Inspired by Sochi and need a ski instructor? Don’t worry, things are not as bad as Boris thinks…

     

    Team GB’s haul of four medals at the Winter Olympics in Sochi was the best showing by a GB team since 1924. With British winter sports on the up at elite level, Ski Club of Great Britain is expecting a mass exodus of British people to European ski resorts like Chamonix and Morzine over the next few years. But what hope is there for people to learn when Boris suggests French instructors, “cost this country millions in the treatment of wholly unnecessary broken legs as well as retarded our progress up the medals rankings in the winter Olympics”?

    People young and old, all across Britain have been inspired by Team GB’s contingent of ‘Fridge Kids’ who took part in Sochi 2014 this winter. Off the back of Sochi, Ski Club of Great Britain is predicting a myriad of British people to descend on dry ski slopes in the UK, and on French resorts like Chamonix and Morzine. 95% of people who skied last season are expected to return to European resorts this winter, and 75% of inactive skiers intend on returning within the next three years.

    However, Boris Johnson warned on Sunday that by booking ski lessons through one of France’s big ski schools, British holiday-makers are likely to be matched with a native French, and possibly non-English speaking, instructor. He argued that ski schools run by UK nationals were difficult to find, and that the partnership of British student and French ski instructor is unlikely to be fruitful for the student – “wholly unnecessary broken legs” being the probable outcome.

    In fact, there are lots of fantastic British ski instructors working alongside French ones all across the Alps, and the reality is that for most Brits learning to ski, the nationality of their instructor is irrelevant. What’s most important for any student is that their instructor matches their learning style and helps them to improve their skiing in a fun and safe environment so that they’ll come back year after year. The problem that Boris really alludes to is that finding an instructor who fits that profile can be difficult, and often left to chance.

    It’s a problem that Nicola Broom, skiing enthusiast and co-founder of upmysport.com, is familiar with. She recalls, “In 2011 I was looking for a brilliant instructor to help me improve my skiing, but I found it hard enough to find any independent instructors, let alone the perfect instructor for me. Lots of my friends had the same problem; they often ended up giving up skiing after a poor learning experience at a big school or even started teaching themselves.”

    To help solve the problem, less than a year later Nicola co-founded a London-based startup called upmysport. upmysport is dedicated to helping people meet their perfect instructor. It is a web and mobile experience bringing together the community of passionate sports instructors, and connecting them with the millions of people in the UK who need guidance in sport.

    upmysport co-founders Neill, Nicola and Steve

    Upmysport co-founders Neill, Nicola and Steve (in need of running coaches…!)

    Launched in 2013, the community is growing, now featuring more than 400 lessons by instructors in both London and the Alps. That includes skiing and snowboarding lessons offered by both British and French instructors working in the French resorts of Chamonix and Morzine, and the 400 is set to grow as the instructors currently listing on upmysport are joined by others from resorts all over Europe and from the UK.

    Those who have booked instructors from the UK before going on their skiing holidays have found the website particularly useful. Nurette Stanford was delighted to have found Alison Culshaw, a ski instructor in Chamonix, she tweeted, “@upmysport@Offpisteperform great holiday made AWESOME by Alison’s instruction!! Glad we found you both!

     

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    Nurette, after she met her perfect instructor, Alison Culshaw, through upmysport!

    With a successful Sochi for GB over, now is the time for Britain to shake off the tag of being a non-winter sports nation. As more people take to the slopes in the footsteps of their new sporting idols, upmysport are connecting them with their perfect instructor, increasing the chance that they’ll return the following year, and helping to make sure that the Sochi legacy is a long-lasting one.

     

    To find your perfect snowsports instructor in Chamonix and Morzine, or to search for London-based instructors across lots more sports, click the links below:

    Snowsports Instructors in Chamonix

    Snowsports Instructors in Morzine

    Sports Instructors in London

    upmysport is a UK-registered company, co-founded by Steve Brindley, Nicola Broom and Neill Pearman. The team is based in Central London, among a cluster of technology startup companies, and in the mountain town of Chamonix, France, the adventure capital of Europe and host of the first winter Olympic Games in 1924.

  • New Partnership: time for upmysport to FOCUS

    Posted in upmysport on October 1, 2013

    upmysport is all about connecting people with great instructors so they can more easily reach their potential in sport & fitness. Our mission is a really positive one. We help instructors, and we help people – that really motivates us to do our best.

    As we continue on our mission, we are always excited to see anyone connect. It’s even more satisfying when we know we can help particular groups of people who will benefit from our service, so we’re really pleased to be able to support FOCUS, the UK’s expat community.

    FOCUS is a unique community for expats and international professionals in the UK. The multinational team share their first-hand knowledge on all aspects of living and working here. FOCUS members gain access to personalised information, events and seminars, including a career development programme for spouses seeking employment in the UK. FOCUS is considered their ‘network away from home’, and provides advice and referrrals for services that members would have asked their family and friends at home. Operating as a non-profit organisation FOCUS is proud to have been supporting expats for over 30 years.

    Alessandra Gnudi, FOCUS Executive Director, said: “FOCUS is delighted to recommend upmysport to our members who want to stay active and practice their favourite sport. For such busy professionals it is essential to find the right coach and trainer to make the most of the very little free time they have.”

    Steve, upmysport co-founder said, “We’re delighted to support FOCUS with the great work they do for expats in the UK. They are a fantastic team, providing a worthwhile service. We look forward to helping many expats with their health, fitness and sporting goals, and to developing the partnership over time.”

    If you’d like to find out more information about FOCUS, feel free to browse their website here.

  • Sport & Fitness Instructors and the web: 2011 survey results

    Posted in upmysport on November 1, 2012

    Here at upmysport we have been working hard on our 2nd annual survey, so we thought it would be a great time to show off what we found out last year, hearing back from instructors across 30+ sports and fitness activities.

    Our ultimate aim is to inspire more people to reach their potential in sport and fitness – we think instructors are at the heart of achieving this. Regularly listening to instructors is really important to us, and it helps us develop a site and blog that works for everyone. We sent our first survey out even before we had a name or a website….read on for last year’s results and take a look at www.upmysport.com/instructors to see what it has helped to deliver so far.

    Or…fast-forward to this year’s survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/annual_instructor_survey_2012

     

    What did we find out?

    More Web please

    90% of instructors want to use the internet more

    Just like consumers, instructors want to use the web more. It may seem obvious, but we wanted to make sure of it (to make sure there was a demand from instructors for upmysport) and it was great news – we can help that 90% use the web for all it has on offer, and hopefully the other 10% too!

    It needs to be free and flexible

    Over 80% of instructors wanted the website to be free upfront to advertise on. Again you may think we could have guessed people wouldn’t want to shed out a load of money just to be online, but we now know for sure. So we listened to the responses and set up what we think is a fair system, which leaves you free to come and go anytime, and maintain your reputation where ever you are.

    Chris Game one of our golf instructors agrees “Finally, a way to advertise my lessons that’s simple to use and has no upfront fees!

    Sort out the issues 

    What do we need to offer that can help instructors? Help with marketing; we give everyone a profile on the web that can be found through Google (pretty neat to see yourself rise up Google results with no effort), and of course do all the extra marketing to bring people to the site in a way people struggle to do alone (online ads, social media, corporate relationships and more).

    Golf Pros Nick and Matt, and many others, listed the biggest issue as “Time management”.

    It is something we all struggle with. upmysport helps remove extra time spent on thankless tasks like booking & payments admin, and frees up time to actually help people in sport and fitness. Managing bookings – a big problem; we help by providing a really simple booking system, and doing cool stuff like sending instructors a text when they get a booking.

    Bring ‘word of mouth’ reputation online

    Over 40% of instructors felt that they received most of their business from customers telling others about them; we have designed upmysport to be as personal and all about the instructor as possible, and let customers do just that. There are also cool ways for instructors to build their reputation by adding a video, personal intro, contributing to our blog (blog.upmysport.com)….and lots more to come.

    Fill in the gaps 

    Finally we found almost everybody could take on new clients: over 50% always had space. So whether there’s a new instructor looking to build a client base, or an established one who just wants a few extra off-peak bookings, we are here to fill those spaces and be flexible to instructors needs. Already very busy? You can hide your profile for a bit (with one click), or take the opportunity to create group courses so more people can benefit, all focused on getting more people reaching their potential in sport and fitness.

    So much space for upmysport to fill!

    To finish we thought you might be interested in the range of sports represented in last year’s survey (we were!). We really want to expand it this year, so please do pass on the link below to anyone who might be interested:

     https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/annual_instructor_survey_2012

    Aikido (traditional), Aikido (competitive), Badminton, Boxing, Canoe/kayak, Cheerleading, Climbing, Fencing, Golf, Gymnastics, Horse Riding, Judo, Karate (traditional), Karate (competitive), Kickboxing, Kitesurfing, Muay Thai, MMA, Mountain Biking, Personal Training, Polo, Power Boating, Running, Sailing, Self defence, Skiing, Snowboarding, Squash, Stand up Paddle boarding, Surfing, Tae Kwon Do, Tai Chi, Telemark Skiing, Tennis, Thai Boxing, Trampolining, Wakeboarding,  Windsurfing

    We want to reach our potential so we can help others reach theirs.

    Thanks for reading,

    Nicola, Steve and all the upmysport team

     

     

  • Meet the team: Alex Keal

    Posted in upmysport on June 13, 2012

    After finding out a little bit more about the two founders in recent weeks, it’s now about time that other key upmysport team members make themselves known. First up it’s the turn of Alex, upmysport’s resident marketing brain and blogger extraordinaire (his words..)

    A big hitter..

    Has startup life been as you expected?
    Coming from a very non-startupy background I did have a lot of cliché preconceptions about what startup life would be like. Shorts to work, table football in the office kind of thing, and while these are some of the perks of working in a new small business they are just the icing on the cake. The thing that has brought the most satisfaction while working in a startup is being able to directly influence the business from day one without the long chain of command you would face in larger firms. The other preconception about working at a startup is that it’s easy. This is certainly not the case! There is a lot of hard work, but the work is very rewarding and the feedback almost instantaneous, which is great!

    Favourite sports?
    I have always loved all sports (motorsport not included; is it even a sport?) but my true passion lies with team sports, and in particular Football and Rugby. Skiing and golf are also sports close to my heart.

    No salopettes, no poles, no idea...

    Best sporting achievement?
    A little while ago now but…playing in the rugby 1st team at school with a number of current England internationals. Playing county hockey from u13 to u18 was also great fun.

    Sport you have always wanted to try?
    I have always liked the look of, and wanted to be good at, extreme sports like skateboarding and BMX; seeing some of the things they can do on video is often mind blowing. I also like the look of Kitesurfing, and feel like this wet and windy summer could be the perfect time to try it.

    Which sport have you always thought you could do better at?
    Tennis is a sport that I have always loved playing but always been inordinately bad at. I can just about fudge my way through a set or two but it’s never graceful. Underarm serves are often a low point.

    Contemplating another missed forehand...

    Sportsperson you model yourself on?
    As a footballer I always wanted to be like Paul Scholes but usually ended up playing something of a cross between a slow Claude Makelele and a slow Darren Fletcher. I still have hopes for a mid 20’s reinvention. In rugby I always love watching Umanga, and more recently Jamie Roberts, for their no-nonsense approach to providing go-forward and an obvious platform for their teams.

    Thanks to Alex for that! and thanks to you for joining us for our latest look at the people behind upmysport.com, we hope you feel like you know us just that little bit better! Stay tuned for our next ‘meet the team’ when Rik, our great head developer, will go under the microscope.

  • Meet the founders part 2: Steve Brindley

    Posted in upmysport on May 23, 2012

    After last week’s quick delve into the soul of upmysport CEO Nicola Hurst, this week it’s the turn of co-founder and COO Steve Brindley to answer a few questions..

    Has startup life been as you expected?

    Yes, and more! I was expecting fun, hard work (most of the time!), a steep learning curve, and a huge level of satisfaction. What I’ve experienced so far is an important reminder that you create your own destiny, it’s up to you to do stuff about it, and you should never just accept the status quo. I also think you need two crucial ingredients for an enjoyable startup life; a passion for the subject, and a smart, supportive team (I’ll stop before I get emotional).

    Wearing a (pink) hat indoors is an underreported perk of startup life..

    Favourite sports?

    Golf, skiing, hockey, surfing & kitesurfing (very much a beginner in the last two!)

    Best sporting achievement?

    Tough one. Captaining U18 Warwickshire county hockey is up there (the glory days!), but I actually feel really proud of remaining undefeated with my brother throughout all our junior golf league matches. That’s quite a few matches across multiple years, seeing off some fierce opposition. It’s made all the more memorable because it was just about the only time we didn’t argue whilst growing up (brotherly love…)!

    Sport you have always wanted to try?

    I’d actually quite like to give boxing a go sometime…

    Which sport have you always thought you could do better at?

    Skiing. I didn’t start learning until I was 19, so unlike the 4 year old French kids who fly down the mountain, I was all too aware of what could go wrong. Certain friends always bring up the time I refused to tackle a tricky black run in Tignes on day 6 of my skiing career, and so choosing to walk back up to the top of the slope (epic fail)! Having been multiples times now, I have improved a lot but could definitely have a few more lessons and really apply myself.…

    All that uphill skiwalking can take it out of you!

    Sportsperson you model yourself on?

    I don’t really! I’m much more one for admiring traits in certain sports people: Usain Bolt for effortless excellence, Beckham for dedication and turning around his fortunes since the nightmare of the world cup ’98, and Tanni-grey Thompson for helping to transform the image of disablility sport.

    So that was what made Steve tick, looking out in the coming weeks as we meet the rest of the team at upmysport…

  • Meet the founders part 1: Nicola Hurst

    Posted in upmysport on May 16, 2012

    We’ve been officially launched for about a month now so we thought it was about time we learnt a bit more about the team behind upmysport. First up is CEO and co-founder Nicola Hurst:

    Has startup life been as you expected?

    I always expected running a startup would involve a lot of hard work, which it does. But actually it doesn’t really feel like work. To wake up every morning knowing you’re going to spend the day doing something you believe in with a passionate team is pretty incredible. Day to day startup life is also so varied. With a small team, you have to get involved in whatever needs doing that day from finance to marketing to product design so there’s no chance of getting bored.

    Startup life is tough...

    Favourite sports?

    Tennis, Skiing, Squash, Kitesurfing

    Just relaxing in the sea..

    Just relaxing in the sea..

    Best sporting achievement?

    Completing the Haute Route, a 114-mile 5 day ski touring route between Zermatt in Switzerland and Chamonix in France. I had prepared for months beforehand and so the sense of achievement in reaching the end was amazing.

    Nicola REALLY enjoyed the Haut route!

    Nicola REALLY enjoyed the Haut route!

    Sport you have always wanted to try?

    Too many to mention, but ice climbing is definitely up there!

    Which sport have you always thought you could do better at?

    Windsurfing. I’ve taken quite a few lessons over the years and gained my RYA Level 2. But I don’t go very often so still feel like a beginner which is really frustrating.

    Sportsperson you model yourself on:

    Justine Henin. I only wish my one-handed backhand was anywhere near as good as hers!

    Join us tomorrow when we find out what makes fellow co-founder Steve Brindley tick.

  • We’re live. Hello www.upmysport.com!

    Posted in upmysport on April 19, 2012

    So after 3 weeks out there in betaland (and with 99 days to go until the Olympics!) we are pushing upmysport out there on its own into the sometimes daunting world of .com.

    This is another big step for upmysport in what has been another big month for the team. We’ve had our first bookings in each of tennis, golf and personal training (thanks again to Sarah for being our first! There have also been plenty of enquiries to our instructors. Not to mention moving into a new office, reaching 800 twitter followers and welcoming our short-term intern Ben.

    This is all great news (and a slight relief!) and we are now very excited about the next phase. To go with our move to .com we’ve also got a brand new homepage design that better shows off our great instructors. We think it’s really important that there is more about our instructors and less about us (don’t worry you can still find out plenty about us if you would like..). So hopefully you’ll find the new-look homepage a lot easier place to start your journey to finding your perfect instructor, course or lesson.

    With that in mind here are some of our favourite listings and instructors:

    We really liked Mark Barlow‘s unique combination of being a Golf instructor and personal trainer:

    To find out more about Mark, watch his video and check out his listings head here.

    We also really liked Chris HinesBalham fitness bootcamps  (pictured below) as an affordable way to get into shape (£8.38p a session!). Chris can also call upon a huge amount of experience in injury rehab so if you’re coming back from injury or just interested in getting fit you can find his listings here.


    Last but by no means least Coco Martin‘s listing offers a great way to get better at tennis with a friend. So if you’re keen to improve you game but would prefer to have some company head over to her listing.

    Finally we would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped us get to this point!