Offley’s Ruth Dickinson winning accolades for tennis, marathons and more

Tennis coach Ruth Dickinson with her medals after completing the Chicago, Boston, New York, Berlin,

Tennis coach Ruth Dickinson with her medals after completing the Chicago, Boston, New York, Berlin, London and Tokyo marathons - all after having a hip replacement. Picture: Bev Creagh - Credit: Archant

With Wimbledon in full swing from Monday, Offley-born Ruth Dickinson is winning accolades across the pond – where she has been awarded a United States Tennis Association trophy for her contribution to the sport.

Ruth, now based in Philadelphia, is a former pupil of Offley and Hitchin Girls’ schools.

The youngest of three, she grew up at Offley Hoo. The whole family were enthusiastic tennis players, enjoying competitive matches on its grass court.

Mum Margaret encouraged her to try badminton, and the talented youngster won both the junior and senior cups at the Herts county championships.

But she decided to concentrate on tennis – and one of her most prestigious wins was at Frinton in 1984, when she lifted the junior, senior and mixed doubles titles. She was in celebrated company – Virgina Wade’s name is also engraved on the junior cup.

Ruth said: “The head at Hitchin Girls’, Margaret Warwick, was very supportive. She allowed me to leave school early to race down to Brentwood to take part in the East Region training sessions.”

At 18, Ruth was offered a tennis scholarship to Jacksonville Community College in Florida, where she excelled in doubles. She and her partner Marcia were described by their coach as the best doubles team he’d ever seen.

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They won 34 matches on the trot and were ranked number one in the nation – which is probably why Ruth was offered no fewer than 27 scholarships when she quit Florida for university in Philadelphia.

She has a degree in sports psychology and is certified as a coach by both the USPTA and LTA. She works as a full-time tennis and fitness coach, and has added marathons to her impressive CV – raising more than £8,000 for the GOSH children with cancer fund.

Ruth, 50, had a hip replacement four years ago and ran the Chicago Marathon the same year. This determined sportswoman then decided to become one of the few runners with hip replacements to complete the world’s six major events – Chicago, Boston, New York, Berlin, London and Tokyo – and she has a commemorative medal to prove it.

The citation she received with the USTA trophy underlines her can-do spirit. It reads: “Ruth is not only an on-court premiere coach, but an extraordinary role model.”

Her proud parents are looking forward to seeing her at home again soon.

Of her formative years at Offley Hoo, Ruth said: “The farm was the best playground in the world in which to grow up.”