Friends of murdered James Cooper have paid tribute to a ”talented tennis coach”.
James, 25, was just three weeks away from completing his level four Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) coaching certificate.
He was employed by tennis company Inspire2Coach based at Warwick University in Coventry and coached at numerous tennis clubs.
Mark Tennant, director of Inspire2Coach, said: ”I last saw James on Wednesday just before he flew to Florida.
”We were joking because I was going to fly out to Florida on Thursday for work.
”He was joking about going out for a jolly while I was going to be working. He was in high spirits and looking forward to his holiday.
”He was a valued member of the team here and was about to qualify for his LTA level four coaching certificate.
”If he had completed that it would mean he could coach juniors at national level.
”He was a talented tennis coach and had a very exciting career ahead of him.”
Mr Tennant refused to confirm rumours James was visiting the famous Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy near Bradenton, Florida, when he was killed.
Bollettieri set up the academy in 1978 and coached a string of tennis superstars including the Maria Sharapova, the Williams sisters and Boris Becker.
Mr Tennant said: ”Every tennis coach in the world has heard of Nick Bollettieri.
”I don’t know if that is where he was going but I would doubt he would go there at three o’clock in the morning.”
James mainly worked as a coach at Beechwood Tennis Club in Earlsdon, Coventry but also taught youngsters at Alcester Tennis Club, Warks.
He flew to Sarasota in Florida with his parents Stanley and Sandra when he was gunned down in the early hours of Saturday.
James lived with his parents at a #500,000 converted barn in Hampton Lucy, Warwick.
No one answered the door yesterday and neighbours remained tight-lipped.
One said: ”I knew the family and they were lovely. It is very sad but I do not want to say any more.”
A worker at Alcester Tennis Club, who did not want to be named, said: ”James was full of energy and enthusiasm, the children loved him.
”He was an excellent coach and was able to identify very quickly the weak points of people’s game.
”Everyone who was coached by him improved. He was destined for great things.”