Tim Henman visits Deal Indoor Centre and Walmer LTC to spur on more youngsters to pursue their tennis dream

Tennis royalty was in town on Wednesday 4 May as former British number one, Tim Henman, visited Tides in Deal and Walmer LTC to take part in the Deal Tennis Festival and support the vision for an East Kent Community Tennis Programme. The aim is to get more young people involved in tennis.

This programme, which focusses on participation, is in its infancy and the Deal Tennis Festival has created awareness of the project. The project over the next three years is already supported by Dover College, the LTA (the national governing body for tennis in Great Britain) and Your Leisure (Deal Indoor Tennis Centre). The programme will grow across East Kent providing three years of student coaching and school teacher professional CPD through LTA Youth Schools. The intention is to attract dedicated coaches to this project who will work within our partner venues thus creating employment opportunities. The Festival reached over 250 students and Tim Henman was on hand to share his experiences from a 15-year playing career which saw him reach six Grand Slam semi-finals and win 15 ATP career titles.

Gavid Vickers, Your Leisure’s Head of Leisure, said “The tennis festival, while being an amazing opportunity for the kids, is the first step to creating a lasting legacy of increased tennis participation and opportunity for future generations of children across East Kent." 

The East Kent Community Tennis Programme (EKCTP) on an annual basis will vastly increase the number of children accessing and enjoying the sport and it will help some of the country’s most vulnerable young people pursue their passions in disciplines like tennis. Events like today’s Festival are all about spreading special experiences like accessing one-to-one coaching and giving more children the chance to find their spark.

Tim Henman OBE said: “I am delighted to be at Deal and Walmer today and see more young potential tennis stars being introduced to a great game. Talent is spread evenly across the country but, sadly, opportunity is not, which is why the Tim Henman Foundation takes such an interest in initiatives like this. As we emerge from the pandemic, children need these chances more desperately than ever. Some of us are lucky enough to remember the moment we found our spark and the people who inspired us, in my case it was through the tennis scholarship I was granted aged nine. By donating you can give more special, life-defining moments to more of our most vulnerable children.”

LTA South East Participation Development Manager, Jemima Lee, added: “The LTA Youth Schools programme is a great opportunity to get pupils playing and learning through tennis and it is fantastic that over 250 children have enjoyed participating in this fun LTA Team Challenge Festival at Deal Indoor Tennis Centre and it was very inspiring for the children to have Tim at the tennis centre for the festival. In the next three years, this exciting project will see many more children across East Kent able to continue their tennis introduction through the LTA Youth Start programme which will see Tennis Opened up and embedded within schools across the East Kent area.”

Richard Garrett RMG Associates, stated, “As a newcomer to the area, I fortunately witnessed the quality of the facilities and received a great tennis welcome. As a result, I was inspired to develop a vision for a community tennis programme by building bridges between schools and clubs across the East Kent. The East Kent Community Tennis Programme will reflect my input to schemes in Merton, The Midlands and Yorkshire. This Festival is an exciting first step.

About the LTA:

The LTA is the National Governing Body of tennis for Great Britain. We are here to govern and grow tennis, from grassroots participation through to the professional game.  Our vision is “Tennis Opened Up” and we’re on a mission to grow tennis by making it relevant, accessible, welcoming and enjoyable.  We work with schools, with volunteers, with coaches and with venues across the whole country. We also represent the interests of over 1,000,000 Members, men and women, girls and boys, playing on more than 23,000 courts. The LTA runs and supports a network of 11,500 approved tournaments for players of all ages, the four corner-stones of which are the premier grass-court events leading up to The Championships, Wimbledon: the Rothesay Open Nottingham, the Rothesay Classic Birmingham, the cinch Championships (at The Queen’s Club, London) and the Rothesay International Eastbourne.  For further information about the LTA and tennis in Britain, visit www.lta.org.uk or follow us on Twitter @the_LTA

About the Tim Henman Foundation:

The Tim Henman Foundation is a youth charity with the mission of transforming the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged young people by improving mental as well as physical health and creating sporting and educational opportunities together with our partners. You can donate to the Tim Henman Foundation ONLINE HERE

Your Leisure would like to thank Morrisons for providing free water and fruit for the children and Co-op for helping us to offer LTA Youth Start courses to the festival participants a half-price tennis course offer.