Meet the members of Gloucestershire's most inclusive racket sports club

Super sociable and great for beginners to experienced players alike, SoGlos finds out what makes East Glos Club the county's most inclusive racket sports club from its members – one of whom likens the Cheltenham club to a Floridian tennis resort!

By Annabel Lammas  |  Published
SoGlos speaks to three members to find out more about Gloucestershire's most inclusive racket sports club – East Glos Club in Cheltenham.

From playing on the only padel courts in Gloucestershire to making new friends, East Glos Club offers something for players of all ages and abilities — with its unique 'one club feel' setting it apart as the county's most inclusive racket sports club.

SoGlos caught up with three of its members to get an insight into the sports and facilities it offers, as well as its sociable community.

Keen sports player, Adrian Allen, discovered East Glos Club after retiring to Cheltenham from Oxfordshire in 2015. 

'As soon as I realised I lived so close to East Glos Club, I had a tour round,' he said.

'I saw four top condition squash and racketball courts, good facilities and a nice bar and café. I was then really impressed with the large number of tennis courts and the variety of surfaces. The staff that I met were very welcoming and this club rivalled a large club that I was a member of in Orlando in Florida in the early 2000s.'

It's not only a club for experienced players though, and welcomes beginners too.

Lucy Rathbone, who has held a family membership with her husband and three teenage children for four and a half years, said: 'I hadn’t played much tennis or squash before joining but I still felt welcome and comfortable there as a beginner.

'I was attracted to East Glos by the fantastic facilities in multiple racket sports, something for all the family.'

With access to a huge range of facilities, including 28 tennis courts spanning all-weather floodlit courts to grass courts for the summer,  members benefit from unlimited access to all four racket sports – tennis, squash, racketball and, its newest addition, padel.

Popular in Europe, padel is a fast-growing sport that's increasing in popularity in the UK. Similar to tennis and squash, it's played in doubles and is more gentle on the joints than other racket sports. 

East Glos Club became the first place in the south west to introduce padel courts in 2021 – and as someone who played padel during his time in Spain, Allen was delighted.

'It was fantastic to learn that the club had made a pioneering decision to push for three padel courts and add this brilliant game to enhance the existing high quality facilities.

'The padel courts are well constructed and this has led to squash, racketball, tennis and badminton players getting together, primarily through a system of social sessions, several times a week. This sport allows some veterans an extension of their sporting careers, whilst imparting new enjoyment combined with a good workout.

'Padel is now my main game and has brought fresh sporting enjoyment and the wish to learn new skills. I like the social aspect of friendly sessions, involving 12 to 16 players and complement this with competitive ladder leagues.'

Rathbone added: 'Having had a couple of introductory lessons in padel, I now play a couple of times a month with friends. It’s been easy to pick up the rules and its great fun to play because it’s fast moving and played as doubles.

'I play tennis twice a week usually. I attend a match players group coaching session; play in the mixed doubles ladders with my husband; and the ladies’ daytime ladders with my partner Hayley, whom I met in the coaching sessions. I will often play with my family at weekends. I enjoy tennis at East Glos because it’s played in good spirit, competitive but friendly, and you meet some really interesting people of all ages. Keeping fit in the fresh air is fantastic even if the weather is wet and windy!'

Allen has also enjoyed making the most of East Glos Club's multi-sport offering over the years.

'Prior to the padel courts being constructed at East Glos, I played squash initially and then transitioned to racketball for three years. The squash/racketball social sessions have been great, allowing one to play at various levels from starter level to high level. As a new member, this helped me to meet a lot of members. I also enjoyed my final years of team squash and competitive league ladder games of squash/racketball.

'These sports give you a great physical workout, test your skills against a variety of different opponents and at the end you shake hands and have a drink!'

Inclusivity is standard at East Glos, which welcomes players of all ages. Ethan, one of the club's junior members, has been part of the club for eight years after discovering he liked tennis when his dad brought him to East Glos at just three years old.

Now, he plays both tennis and padel regularly and makes the most of everything the club has to offer – from coaching to opportunities for competitive play.

He said: 'I have group tennis lessons in a performance session, which really bring on my game. I also play competitive ladder box matches at the club, which is great for meeting new people. I have a couple of friends I play tennis and padel regularly with, and also play with family. So I play around three to four times a week.

'Last year I entered the East Glos summer tennis tournament, which was good fun. I have just started playing in the padel box leagues with my dad, again great fun and good for meeting new people.'

As well as meeting new people on the court, Rathbone even goes on regular tennis holidays to Portugal with the friends she's made at East Glos — saying the best reason to become a member is to not only improve your tennis skills, but to 'make like-minded friends of all ages.'

To find out more about becoming a member of Gloucestershire's most inclusive racket sports club, visit

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