Over 6,000 young people will be visiting London SW19 for the Wimbledon Championships over the next fortnight thanks to a scheme from the Tennis Foundation to make the sport more inclusive and accessible to all communities.
The scheme is being organised in conjunction with the Tennis Foundation’s SERVES programme, which helps bring tennis to over 130 sites in urban and disadvantaged communities every week.
The project now sees ‘pop-up’ tennis courts around the UK, engaging people in tennis who would never have had the opportunity to play before.
Also in attendance during the Championships will be members of Great Britain’s learning disability tennis squad – before they head to Paris for the INAS World Championships – and members of the Tennis Foundation’s wheelchair tennis GB junior squad.
Colin Hunt, from the SERVES site in Wirral, highlighted the impact this experience gives the young people in his area, saying: “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them, providing the chance to witness first-hand what they only see on TV or in the news.
“This experience leaves them with memories that will stay with them forever and fills them with even more enthusiasm to take part in our SERVES sessions.”
Tickets have also been handed out to students at inner city schools in Birmingham as part of the Tennis Foundation’s partnership with CORE Education Trust.
The partnership allows children from communities who traditionally do not engage in tennis to receive high-quality coaching in schools and mentoring, as well as using tennis for a vehicle for pupil leadership and character development.
Cathy O’Driscoll, Head of Development at CORE Education Trust, said: “This fantastic opportunity not only inspires students in our schools to play and participate in tennis but, just as importantly, opens up their world view through the social context of the Championships.
“Through CORE Education Trust’s partnership with the Tennis Foundation and the LTA, students from diverse backgrounds in inner-city Birmingham schools are now viewing tennis as a sport that is for them.”
Joanna Farquharson, Interim Executive Director of the Tennis Foundation, added: “The fortnight of the Championships provides a fantastic opportunity for us to give young people from across the country who are involved in our programmes to open up tennis to anyone and everyone the chance to experience something they may never otherwise have had the chance to do.”