Tributes paid to Ayrshire’s ‘Mr Tennis’ Jan Collins MBE after death aged 92

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to Ayrshire’s ‘Mr Tennis’ Jan Collins MBE who has sadly passed away at the age of 92.

Jan, from Troon, was a founder of Prestwick Tennis Club and passed away at his daughter’s home towards the end of last month.

Mr Collins, who won the 85+ seniors’ Wimbledon championship eight years ago, had been battling prostate cancer since 2015.

He’s been described as a “remarkable man” by those who knew him best and a “wonderful gentleman”.

A statement from Prestwick Tennis and Fitness read: “Jan was indeed a remarkable man who touched the lives of so many people.

“Jan had a lifelong love of tennis, but it was relatively late in life, in his 60s, after retiring, when he embarked on a mission to transform participation in the sport he loved in Ayrshire.

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“His enthusiasm and persuasive personality led to countless people taking up the sport.

“When the phone rang late at night or early morning you knew Jan would persuade you or your child to play in a competition.

“Jan worked particularly hard to encourage young people to play tennis, and his tireless efforts resulted in Prestwick establishing the largest junior tennis program in Scotland.

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“His tennis outreach work was truly remarkable, delivering tennis programs involving the majority of primary schools in South Ayrshire. This was unique in Scotland and resulted in the club being awarded Tennis Club of the Year by Tennis Scotland on more than one occasion.”

Jan’s most notable achievement in tennis in Ayrshire was the construction of the Prestwick Indoor Tennis Centre.

It was his single-minded drive and tireless efforts over the years to achieve his vision which not only persuaded others to buy into it, but also to help raise £1.85 million in funding. His dedication of him finally came to fruition when the center opened in 2003.

Jan, who was sadly widowed in 2013, was also an inspirational figure to countless young players.

He was awarded an MBE in 2004 for his services to tennis, and in 2021, he received the Tennis Scotland Lifetime Achievement Award which recognizes individuals for displaying outstanding commitment and a lifetime of dedication to the sport.

Steeped in a family of tennis tradition, Jan was the nephew of former Scottish tennis player Ian Glen Collins, who reached multiple doubles and mixed doubles finals at Wimbledon in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

A keen golfer as well as tennis player, Jan was a member of Prestwick, Royal Troon and Turnberry.

Jan Collins embarks on his big lockdown fundraiser in his back garden
Jan Collins embarks on his big lockdown fundraiser in his back garden

In May 2020, we told how the plucky pensioner was proving an ace in his own back garden during lockdown – as he rattled up birdies for a good cause.

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Jan attempted to complete 1000 holes on his own home course during lockdown.

The sports mad dad-of-four and grandfather-of-six was raising money for the STV Children’s Appeal and almost £10,000 was piled into the coffers.

At the time, Jan, Who Was Undergoing treatment for stage four prostate cancer, said: “I’m getting up Earlier Than normal Having a power nap in the middle of the day to conserve my energy, then a going again 9pm each evening Until .

“My dog, Rose, is the perfect partner to speed me up, as she finds lost balls that I’ve hit into the flower beds.

“During this pandemic, children have been some of those hit hardest and the STV Children’s Appeal is an excellent cause supporting those most in need.”

Prestwick Tennis and Fitness added: “Jan was indeed a unique, inspirational figure who was admired by all who met him.

“His was a life truly well lived and we will not see his like again. We were privileged to know him and we will all miss him.

“Our deepest sympathies go to Jan’s family at this extremely difficult time.”

Others who knew Jan took to social media to express their profound sadness.

Sally Knox said: “What a wonderful gentleman he was. So sad to hear of his passing from him.”

Kirsty Anne McHarg said: “So sad to hear this. Jan was such an inspiration and a lovely gentleman and definitely one of a kind.

“He worked tirelessly at everything he did. Thoughts are with his family of him at this very difficult time. ”

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A family burial will be followed by a Service of Thanksgiving on Saturday, February 12 at 12noon at St Ninian’s Episcopal Church, Troon, KA10 6HZ.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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