A HOLMFIRTH-BORN tennis coach is proving a smash in America.
Simon Earnshaw, 37, attended Holmfirth High and Greenhead College before winning a scholarship to study in Georgia.
The former member of Huddersfield Lawn Tennis and Squash Club is head men’s and women’s coach at Armstrong Atlantic State and has reached a 500th career coaching victory.
He has won the national championship with both teams for the past two years running, a feat only equalled once before in the USA – and a third could be on the way in May.
But he has not forgotten his roots, saying: “I have lots of good memories, I spent every hour I wasn’t in school at the tennis club beyond the age of 15.
“I went back for a visit in 2007 and it’s still the same guy behind the bar as if nothing had changed.
“I look back and realise I should have been working more on my game. It’s a different culture here and there isn’t that social aspect which is such a big part of the UK.
“As a player I was okay and was good enough to earn my scholarship to the US.
“I figured out I didn’t want to go to uni in England as I would have to give the tennis up.”
Studying in Georgia, he became a graduate assistant coach – a “good deal” which allowed him to pay for his schooling.
This led to an opening at Armstrong for an assistant and a vacancy for the top spot when the head coach moved on.
He lives in Savannah with his wife, Nichole and four children, daughters, Abigail, nine, and Ella, seven and two sons, Luke, six, and Lleyton, one.
His brilliant results in America contrast to the fortunes of British tennis, humiliated by defeat in Lithuania in the Davis Cup and the resignation of head coach John Lloyd.
The British team now faces the daunting prospect of a relegation play off with Turkey.
Discussing the state of the game on his native soil, he doesn’t hold back.
Simon said: “If Murray doesn’t play we’re in trouble, there’s such a lack of depth.
“The problem is the situation perpetuates itself as the people doing the work are the same coaches.
“There are English coaches here doing very well and myself included we would never be considered for the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) because we are not part of the group that has been running it all along.
“Some here can’t bring themselves to talk about it.
“We have good junior players but they just play each other. As soon as they get one ATP point they’re going pro.
“The problem is those players are a dime a dozen in US colleges.”
The LTA may not be knocking soon, but Simon is continuing to push for records stateside where the resources are a little more developed.
He said: “The club was the only place in Huddersfield with an indoor court but I have happy memories of the district league on a Tuesday – I enjoyed those years.”