Henman serves for the future of British tennis
Chiswick to be one of 18 centres of excellence
this week demonstrated his commitment to raising the profile of tennis
in the UK as the official patron of the Tennis First Charitable Trust,
which supports the Esporta Racquets Academy, a new nationwide initiative
dedicated to nurturing Britain’s future tennis stars. To mark the launch
of the Esporta Racquets Academy, the UK number one seed participated in
a Junior Masterclass at Esporta Riverside Chiswick.
The Tennis First Charitable Trust (TFCT) was founded at the Esporta Riverside
Chiswick club in 1999 with support from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).
The TFCT has helped tennis stars such Alex Bogdanavic and Anne Keothavong
who both played in Wimbledon 2003 and 2003 and are now competing on the
ATP and WTA tours respectively.
David Felgate, Director of Performance at the LTA and previously Henman’s
coach confirmed the LTA’s support of the Academy. “The LTA is keen to
help give children more opportunities to realise their talent and is determined
to ensure tennis is an accessible, non-elitist and fun sport for all to
enjoy. We are working hard to fund a quality tennis infrastructure and
Academies such as this will undoubtedly help in achieving that,” he said.
So will the Esporta Racquets Academy generate the next Tim Henman?
Quite possibly, according to Gary Stewart, Academy consultant, who said
that what makes the Academy different from other initiatives is the Academy’s
selection process and its accessibility. Selection of participants will
focus on children aged 4-18 and will be driven largely through a schools
outreach programme. Mr Felgate emphasised that “schools are key” to develop
the next generation of players and rather than bring “the odd tennis lesson”
to schools the Academy will focus on identifying talented children at
schools and bringing them to the Academy for coaching, competitions and
Mr Stewart pointed that the outreach programme is already underway, so
if you are a parent or teacher in a local school and would like to be
part of it, call Samantha Durchslag 0207 493 2233
or Esporta Riverside Chiswick 0208 987 1800
Accessibility is the second distinctive feature of the Academy’s approach
to grooming tennis talent. Access to the Academy, housed at 18 Esporta
clubs nationwide, will be widened for selected children with the introduction
of 4 new membership categories at Esporta clubs. At present a child’s
membership is provided by his/her parents but the Academy will provide
individual memberships to selected children. Members will be required
to commit to a range of activities and initiatives at the Academy.
Henman himself declared his commitment to the Academy and will be actively
fundraising for it, starting with an exhibition match against Goran Ivanosevich
at the Royal Albert Hall next month. He further remarked that he hopes
his active involvement will serve as a motivator for children to become
and stay involved in the Academy.
September 30, 2003