Tennis coach's ordeal in Uzbekistan

THE family of a national tennis coach from Suffolk have spoken of their ordeal after he was caught up in civil unrest in Uzbekistan.James Trotman, 26, a former junior Wimbledon doubles' champion, was working with a group of British tennis players in Andijan in the former Soviet republic when violent clashes began at the end of last week.

By Richard Smith

THE family of a national tennis coach from Suffolk have spoken of their ordeal after he was caught up in civil unrest in Uzbekistan.

James Trotman, 26, a former junior Wimbledon doubles' champion, was working with a group of British tennis players in Andijan in the former Soviet republic when violent clashes began at the end of last week.

He has told of being surrounded by loud gunfire, while the players spent a night huddled together in a tennis club before escaping the mass panic under armed guard.


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Mr Trotman has sent two text messages to his family in Tuddenham St Martin, near Ipswich, to assure them he is safe - but his mother Linda said she was still waiting to speak to him and would be relieved when he arrived back in England. The group are due to fly home today.

The tennis coach was on the trip with players Arvind Parmar, Jamie Delgado, David Sherwood, Richard Bloomfield, Jonny Marray and Dan Kiernan, who had been competing in the Andijan Futures tournament.

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Violence flared in the city after up to 4,000 prisoners were set free by armed men protesting at the country's rising levels of poverty. They have called for the resignation of president Islam Karimov.

It is reported that at least 200 people have been killed during fighting between Government forces and militants and Uzbek security forces have now sealed off the centre of Andijan and roads into the city.

Last night, Mrs Trotman said: "On Friday, we thought he was going to fly out on Saturday morning, but they could not leave Andijan because there was a curfew.

"They missed their flight on Saturday and there was not another flight until Monday.

"We heard on Saturday that they had left with an armed guard from Andijan and that was a relief. They went to Tashkent and I do not think there is any trouble there.

"I have not spoken to him but we have had a couple of text messages from him and he said that he is okay and we have been kept informed by the Lawn Tennis Association."

Mrs Trotman, whose husband Michael is a contract manager with BT, said their daughter, Clare, 28, of Kesgrave, has been very concerned about her brother.

"She has been very anxious and she did not sleep much on Friday night," said Mrs Trotman.

James Trotman, a former member of Sproughton Tennis Club, could not be contacted for comment last night, but on Friday he told a national newspaper about the unfolding horror in Andijan.

"Some people tell us it's under control and then we hear how many people have been killed. It's pretty bloody scary, to tell you the truth. It's been horrible from the day we arrived," he said.

"Three guys, including myself, have been sick with the food and we are staying in a place where most of the windows are smashed.

"We just want to get out of here as quickly and safely as we can. I know none of us has experienced anything like this in our lives.

"There is so much uncertainty, no one really knows what is going on and every few minutes for the last six hours or so we've heard really loud gunfire from what seems to be a few hundred yards away. There are said to be a lot of snipers on the roofs around here. All we want to do is get home in one piece."

A spokesman for the LTA said last night: "We have been in constant contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the British consulate in Tashkent, and the International Tennis Federation as well as the six players and officials.

"The players and coach are now in Tashkent and we continue to work on bringing them home as soon as it is safe and feasible to do so."

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