If ever proof in the old adage “It’s a small world” was needed, here it is! Picture the scene: a court in the John McEnroe Tennis Centre on Randall’s Island, Manhattan, New York City. A tennis coach has just spent a couple of hours on court coaching two small boys – his new pupils. Both boys sound decidedly American, having the nasal drawl of the locals.
At the end of the lesson the coach exchanges pleasantries with his charges’ dad – and realises, from his accent, that he is a Brit. At the same time, the dad also picks up on the fact that the coach is a fellow Brit and asks, “Where do you come from?” The coach replies, “Oh, somewhere you’ve never heard of. Tiny place, down in Somerset.”
The tennis coach is Danny Manlow. Here’s his story: “I started playing tennis when I was four years old with my Dad and brother at Court Fields in the sports hall. My parents still live in Westford. I played for Somerset at all age levels and continue to play for the men’s team in County Week and the winter County Cup.
“I went to Wellesley Park Primary School and then Court Fields for Years 7 and 8, then moved to Bath to train at the tennis academy there, finishing my GCSE’s at Ralph Allen School. I moved back home for my A levels at Richard Huish College.
“From there I went to The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in 2008 where I played college tennis for 4 years, graduating in Sport and Health in 2012. After graduation I wanted to stay in the US to work for a bit and found this coaching job advert online. I applied and got the job during my last year at uni. I’m now working full-time as a staff professional at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy.
“I’m planning to return to England this summer for good. I want to work in the tennis industry, coaching and/or in management. I’d like to travel to different countries and work in tennis around the world in the next ten years before I decide where I want to settle permanently.
“I’ve had a lot of fun living in New York City. It’s a great place to be when you’re young. However, the busy nature of the place makes it somewhere I don’t want to be for too long. I prefer to see some countryside once in a while and there’s not a lot of that here! It does have a huge amount to offer, though.”
The dad, again coincidentally, is another Dan – Dan Paltridge – and this is his story: “I went to Wellington School and played tennis at junior level for Somerset and the South West. I still play now and then when I have time. My job has taken me around the world a bit – from London to Paris, then Los Angeles where my two older boys picked up their American accents, and now New York. Tennis is a great game and the boys really enjoy their sessions with Danny. He makes the whole session a lot of fun for them which is so important when you’re training youngsters.
“When we discovered that we came from the same place it was quite a surprise, to say the least. At this centre alone there are thirty-five courts and thirty-seven coaches so the odds on this meeting even here are… well, long!”
If you have your own stories of Wellington’s far-flung diaspora bumping into one another in places around the globe, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org