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Tuesday, 07 July 2015

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Net gain for Barrow kids in tennis venture

WHILE Andy Murray, Laura Robson and Heather Watson were dazzling in Melbourne, a group of talented tennis aces were stepping on court in Barrow at the start of a new scheme.

A total of 25 children from across the area were selected for the Primary School Gifted and Talented Tennis Programme at Furness Academy.

The Years 3 and 4 pupils – selected after visits to schools around the area – picked up their rackets for the first time last week, with both boys and girls benefiting from coaching as part of the LTA scheme, a first for the county.

Coaching was provided by Furness Academy tennis development officer Stefan Jones, and a group of pupils trained to help teach the youngsters and will continue throughout the school year.

Jones said: “Furness Academy are providing an excellent opportunity for local primary school children to participate in a tennis performance programme which includes professional coaching sessions.

“They will also have match-play sessions once a month, master classes and mini tournaments during school holidays.”

Jo Cunliffe, the tennis development manager for the North East and Cumbria, came along to the first coaching session and was impressed with what she saw.

She said: “British Tennis is seeing its most successful time over recent years, with Grand Slam titles, Olympic titles, Paralympic medals and its first WTA title for 21 years.

“The programme at Furness Academy is playing a part in this exciting time. The players are starting their tennis journey and, whichever route they take, tennis is a game for life and they are going to develop not only tennis skills but also life skills.”

The Academy’s director of engagement and achievement, Helen Robinson, was also pleased the scheme was taking place at the school.

She added: “I’m delighted we are able to offer and support such a programme for the young tennis players in our community.

“I’m very aware of the difficulties of access to these types of programmes, therefore it is important we facilitate them where we can.

“We are also delighted that this programme has enabled 12 students from Furness Academy to be trained as tennis leaders. This is a great opportunity for the young people to develop lifelong leadership skills which will prepare them well for later life.”

The children taking part in the scheme will have their first mini tournament on Saturday, February 9.


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