Murraymania sweeps Gorleston Tennis Club
Andy Murray’s success in the Olympic tennis event has given children across the nation an urge to get away from their computer games and head towards the nearest tennis courts to play but where do they find tennis courts locally?
Almost all local schools have no tennis courts and few junior school PE teachers are able to play tennis well enough to instruct children how to play the game properly. The number of public courts in the Great Yarmouth area has been reduced in recent years as people have turned to Wii’s, Playstations and X-boxes instead of engaging in healthy outdoor exercise.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast TV this week, Mr Jeremy Hunt, Minister for Sport, said: “Primary school is where it all starts and catching people young is incredibly important” but he accepted pupils faced “an element of luck”, for example in terms of having an inspirational teacher.
They also face the problem of inadequate funding going into school facilities.
Many school playing fields have been sold off for building land and severe cuts in budgets have put schools under pressure to maintain delivery of a wide range of sports. The school curriculum and facilities favour teaching team sports like football and hockey, which enables several pupils to be taught on the school field by one teacher.
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Not even all of our high schools have functional tennis courts.
Mike Reynolds, chairman and Tennis Coach at Gorleston Tennis Club has seen the interest in tennis flourish on the back of Andy Murray’s success at Wimbledon in the Championships and the Olympics, with lots of children wanting to attend tennis camps and coaching sessions.
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“Children are really enthusiastic about tennis,” he said.
“I coach tennis in a number of local junior schools, none of which has proper tennis courts or optimal indoor facilities for tennis. Teaching the basic strokes and providing the children with fun and an opportunity to exercise can be achieved within such limited facilities but to enjoy the game to the full, tennis should be played on proper tennis courts”.
“The children who want to have more fun and progress in tennis come to our club, which has recently undergone a dramatic transformation.
“With the aid of a �50,000 award from Sport England, we have commenced a project to add a new, floodlit court and have the other four courts repainted.
“We can now aim to get over 200 adults and children per year to take up and enjoy tennis as a result of this initiative.”
The award is part of the �45 million Inspired Facilities Fund that was set up by the government so that sporting organisations around the UK could bid for funding that would enable them to obtain a legacy from the London 2012 Olympics which would benefit future generations of sportspersons.
“We have tried in the past to improve our facilities and have applied for funding from the LTA but could not obtain their support. Thankfully, when I applied to Sport England, they have taken a view of what we could achieve if we had better facilities and have awarded the funding to help us do it.”
Andy Murray learned much of his skills in Spain and the Spanish style of tennis has proven to be very successful in getting several Spanish players into the top echelon of World rankings.
Mike said: “At Gorleston Tennis Club we teach the Spanish style of tennis. There is an emphasis on correct technique, balance and rhythm while providing players adults and children with lots of fun and action on court.
“We also run a programme called Cardio Tennis which enables players of all standards to get valuable, aerobic exercise while having fun hitting lots of tennis balls – it is a great way for complete beginners to learn how to play tennis while not feeling embarrassed about their initial lack of skill.”
He added: “We welcome enquiries from people of all ages who want to start playing tennis and from those who want to get back into the sport.”
Visit gorlestontennisclub.co.uk or call Mike on 07886 098953.