While the world’s best were battling it out for the ATP World Tour title at The O2 – former British No.1 female tennis player Annabel Croft, visited St Paul’s Way Trust School to attend a remarkable tennis session aimed at the young tennis players in Tower Hamlets.
Greenhouse Sports is a tennis programme that runs daily sessions to improve school performance and pupil wellbeing. The programme, supported by the Tennis Foundation, is now hoping to benefit from the Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA) historic Transforming British Tennis Together initiative, which will see £125 million invested into grassroots tennis.
Annabel Croft, former professional British No. 1 female tennis player visited the school to attend one of the sessions of this tennis programme and was happy at the prospect of all-year round tennis for a new generation of players. She said: “This is such an astronomical amount of money, probably the largest this sport has ever seen. Today we’ve got two really nice courts but at 4pm today it’s going to be getting dark, so getting new floodlights would enable kids like we saw today take their tennis sessions for longer throughout the year.
“This is a good example of a facility that, with a little extra funding, would allow communities to play all year round. The key is investment into facilities and Transforming British Tennis Together is reaching out to all clubs, local authorities and schools to try and access some of the money on offer.”
The LTA is now calling on communities, clubs and local governments across the country to find out how they can benefit the record amount of funding to transform community tennis facilities. Through Transforming British Tennis Together, the LTA is aiming to work with communities to reduce the barriers to playing tennis by doubling the number of floodlit and covered courts across the UK over the next ten years to increase available playing hours.
The initiative will also see the LTA work with local communities to install features like online booking and entry systems so that to make it easier for people to book a tennis court from their mobile phone, computer or tablet.
Alastair Marks, Participation Director at the Lawn Tennis Association, said: “We want to see more children able to play tennis all year-round, not just at schools but at community facilities open to all, and we have identified areas like East London being key to the LTA to grow tennis and invest in facilities in the capital. The popularity of tennis in schools and communities and the success of programmes such as those run by the Tennis Foundation and Greenhouse Sports, as well as the real level of engagement amongst prospective partners, creates a huge opportunity to create year-round facilities and get more people playing more often.”