AEGON GB Davis Cup player, Jamie Baker, took time out from preparations for this weekend’s Davis Cup tie, against Turkey, to join pupils at Langney Primary School in Eastbourne to check out the changes in tennis which are taking the nation’s youngsters by storm.
The Tennis Foundation (TF), supported by the Lawn Tennis Association, (LTA) has been implementing the AEGON Schools Tennis strategy to increase children’s access to tennis and Baker was on hand to see the new style tennis delivery in action.
Britain’s number three player experienced firsthand just what an impact the initiative is having on pupils on the south coast.
He said: “To encourage more kids to take up the sport and stay involved, we want to make tennis more accessible at school and we want them to have a quality experience of this great sport, and the session I saw today was exactly that.”
Says a spokesperson: “AEGON Schools Tennis provides a range of resources for schools, including an innovative coach-led DVD. The new tools are designed to give teachers everything they need to offer tennis, and to challenge old-fashioned views of the sport. They demonstrate how tennis can be taught in small areas to large groups, whether in the playground or the school hall.
“Tennis is the only sport to have developed such an interactive child-facing DVD resource, meaning the pressure of demonstrating tennis skills is taken off the teachers. AEGON Schools Tennis has been made available to over one million children.*
“The programme also provides the equipment to make it happen with 8,058 packs having been distributed nationwide completely free-of-charge – the equivalent of 241,740 tennis rackets and 483,480 tennis balls and Baker believes quality experience of tennis at school is key for the long-term growth and success of the sport.”
Added Baker: “The resources provided by the Tennis Foundation, including the innovative schools DVD, are great ways to help teachers and coaches develop their knowledge, and boost their confidence in offering quality group tennis lessons. The AEGON Schools Tennis equipment bags also give schools the physical tools they need – whether rackets, balls or nets.”
The spokesperson continued: “It is estimated that 79 per cent of schools already offer tennis but Tennis Foundation research shows many teachers don’t have the confidence to teach tennis to large groups of children.
“Schools lack equipment or are worried about a lack of space. The tools being rolled out across British Tennis are designed to tackle these barriers. Following the success of AEGON Schools Tennis at primary level, the programme has been extended to secondary schools and was launched earlier this year in February.
“The focus on primary schools is continuing throughout 2009-10, with a range of tools for secondary school also now available.
“The LTA and Tennis Foundation are also working to build the links between schools and clubs so more young people continue to play the sport and achieve their potential.”
Langney Primary School PE co-ordinator, Jo Kidd, said:
“Since attending the Tennis Leaders Course organised by the Tennis Foundation I have been able to set up, with confidence, a ‘Tennis After School Club.’ Using the DVD resource has given me many ideas and guided me through the progression of teaching tennis to young children.
“It was my intention as PE co-ordinator to raise the profile of tennis in the school and this has certainly started the ball rolling. The children have really benefited from the equipment and are excited about learning their new skills in tennis.”
Paul Regan, head of Education at the Tennis Foundation, added:
“It’s great to see pupils from Langney Primary enjoying playing tennis using the equipment we have donated. We’re confident that through AEGON Schools Tennis and by developing links with local places to play, a lasting legacy will be created in thousands of schools for pupils to continue enjoying the sport for many years to come.”
Ian Murray, head of Sponsorship at AEGON, added:
“The work carried out by both the LTA and the Tennis Foundation through AEGON Schools Tennis, is already making great strides in developing tennis as a core part of the sporting curriculum in many primary schools.
“Our support of AEGON Schools Tennis demonstrates the breadth of our partnership with British Tennis. AEGON’s investment into programmes such as this will allow the sport of tennis to develop more strongly at all levels of the game and encourage more people to take up the sport, as well as identifying and nurturing the talent within British Tennis.”
The Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Europe/Africa Zone Group II tie will take place from 9-11 July 2010 at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne. For latest updates, visit www.lta.org.uk/daviscup
AEGON is the lead partner of British Tennis and is supporting the sport at all levels from grass roots to elite level.
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