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Presenting a program that brings tennis to a whole new audience

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British icons Andy Murray, Emma Raducanu, Joe Salisbury, Alfie Hewett and our other elite players make headlines in the national tennis media, but there are also unsung heroes at the grassroots who ensure that we capitalize on the rising interest in the sport.

SERVES is the LTA’s lead sports development program as the sport’s governing body in Britain strives to bring tennis to the heart of local communities and to children and young people who may have never picked up or thought they would tennis was a sport for them.

To date, LTA SERVES has reached more than 35,000 children and young people from some of the most underprivileged communities and has great ambitions to open up tennis to even more people. In England, Scotland and Wales, more than 1,000 trusted community leaders have been trained to confidently deliver tennis sessions, as part of the SERVES programme, to the children and young people who regularly visit community venues (youth clubs, community centers and religious sites).

Tennis Activators take center stage and are the glue that brings it all together. Nari Sohal of SWAT (Sikh Welfare Awareness Team) Youth Club in Slough is one of those passionately delivering tennis to the masses.

Our youth club had recently opened and we were looking for new activities to organize, and tennis was something we might not have thought of until the LTA approached us, Nari said.

It was free to join which was great because many of the teens have never played before and can’t afford to join tennis clubs. We were given rackets, pop-up mini nets, resources for social change activities and access to Tennis Activator training.

At our youth club we play indoors and we have outdoor facilities. SERVES showed us that tennis can be played anywhere, you don’t have to play on a tennis court alone. By implementing tennis into our activities and by being able to perform as part of camps, we have created a sense of belonging in children and young people who have never had the chance to play or have never seen someone like them play.

Nari Sohal - SERVES activator
Nari Sohal – SERVES activator

We’ve seen a huge surge in interest in our tennis sessions since Emma Raducanus won the US Open last summer, there was a buzz and the kids look up to role models that let them see a little bit of themselves. So many kids now play tennis at our youth club, and without SERVES they might never have gotten involved.

The LTA has given us the opportunity to take our group to Wimbledon. For a dream come true. It is truly a life-changing experience, one that they will never forget.

SERVES Tennis Activators are equipped and guided by the LTA, as they are bringing tennis to a new audience, with the range of activities on offer so that this is not just a program for those who want to achieve a high level of tennis excellence, it supports to addressing inequalities in sport and paving the way for more children and young people to be involved in tennis on a long-term basis, regardless of their background.

There are so many fun activities you can do. We have managed to deliver tennis to a wide range of people in our community. The SERVES program is not just about hitting a ball back and forth, it supports children to gain confidence and make better and healthier life choices, which can be more difficult if you live in communities where crime rates and obesity levels are generally be higher.

We offer fun activities for everyone who wants to work out, have fun, meet new people and enjoy a new sport.

As a child I loved tennis, but my brothers never wanted to play with me and that meant hitting a ball against a wall on my own. I loved that, but if we had a program like LTA SERVES when I was young it would have been perfect for me on so many levels and I could have moved on. You will meet new people, get to know a new sport and hopefully start your journey in tennis.

It’s great to see more children from different backgrounds and children from more working-class families getting involved in tennis, it really is a sport for everyone.

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2/ https://www.tennis365.com/tennis-news/serves-tennis-lta-britain/

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