By Ros Satar
- Lawn Tennis Association announces biggest ever initiative to increase junior participation
- Introductory free junior tennis courses and 10,000 free racquets
- Also announces national Davis Cup Tour
LONDON, UK – The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has set out its stall to capitalise on the success of the British Davis Cup team, offering free lessons, racquets and expert coaching around the country to drive junior participation in the game up.
Following on from Britain’s historic win, 79 years in the making, 10,000 free introductory courses and racquets will be handed out at local venues for boys and girls taking part. A team of 1000 expert coaches will take the reins, with recruitment commencing in January 2016, and the courses are expected to ahead of the first Davis Cup tie, being held in Birmingham in March against Japan.
In addition to this, the Davis Cup trophy will be going on tour to 50 different venues being offered the chance to host the trophy in local communities, clubs or parks and with the bonus of surprise visits from the members of the team.
Each of the LTA counties will aim to receive a visit from the trophy as thanks for the support for the team over the past year.
After their epic win, Aegon GB team captain Leon Smith stressed the need for the LTA to use this win as an opportunity to inspire the next generation of tennis stars, and both he and Fed Cup captain Judy Murray welcomed the initiative as a positive step.
Smith said: “The whole team cares passionately about our sport. We actively want to make a difference in capitalising on this unique opportunity to get as many kids on court as possible.”
Murray added: “The Davis Cup victory created an enormous profile for British Tennis and took the sport to a whole new audience. We must capture that now with the message that our sport is accessible, affordable and fun for all.
“This initiative is a positive move to hopefully inspire more children to play and will take a lot of work. That means creating a network of tennis pied pipers who can deliver starter activity all over the country. We must invest in people to build a workforce in order to create a lasting legacy for the next generation.”
LTA Chief Executive Michael Downey may well have come in for criticism in recent months for not having done enough. Andy Murray commented after the Davis Cup win that he had felt that discussions with the LTA to help capitalise on his own success was a ‘waste of time’ as he commented to the BBC about his concerns for a lack of juniors coming up through the ranks.
He said: “Nothing ever gets done and I don’t like wasting my time,” and add “It’s concerning not to have any juniors in the Grand Slams because that is something we were always very good at. It’s not ideal.”
Downey now believes this is a good step towards realising a longer term goal for the LTA, saying:
“Our Aegon GB Davis Cup team has done the hard part in creating history and bringing the World Cup of Tennis home. We have a four year strategic plan to get more people playing tennis more often and critical to this is the desire Leon and the team have to inspire the new players into our sport.”
Relieve the GB Team’s epic Davis Cup journey
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