The Nitto ATP Finals will be held in London for 12th and last time this week. To celebrate the 12-year events in the UK, you have to tell the stories of those it has inspired over the years.
For 13-year-old Annis Frimpong from Lewisham, she vividly remembers when her love affair with tennis began. Her father Isaac created an improvised net on a basketball court at the age of four and was immediately sold.
It was a sport that Annis could play with her whole family. Her father is now a Level Two LTA Accredited Coach and she was also able to play with her twin brothers (two years older) and her younger sister.
I still remember the feeling of connection to the ball when I was younger. I liked hitting the ball hard and just letting go. Of course I also liked competitions, but most of all, having fun and enjoying it, playing with friends or with my family.
The Frimpong family was able to attend the 2013 edition of the ATP Finals thanks to some tickets that they managed to get at their club through the LTA at the time. Burgess Park Tennis Center, where her father also volunteered.
That first visit to a live tennis event, seeing the best players in person, left an indelible mark on the six-year-old. We watched Roger (Federer) play Nishikori and it was just great to be at this event you saw on TV and to be close to where you lived. It’s inspiring when you play club matches and then go to a live event to see how fast the tennis is and how passionate the fans are in the real experience. It was something I will never forget and it encouraged me to do my best.
After attending the season-ending event at The O2, the family continued to play locally in parks when travel costs became too high to attend Burgess Park.
Annis has always loved watching Roger, Novak, Rafa and Halep. Her big role model is Serena Williams, especially as a mom, how she got so close to Margaret Courts record, reaching four grand finals since her return. She’s also inspired by Coco Gauff who says, “It gives me hope when a player my age can compete against much higher ranked players, and then if I keep playing the best I can, maybe I can achieve even more.”
Earlier this year, the family’s tennis situation got more complicated after the first lockdown. Tanya Woodward, LTA Participation Development Manager, was made aware of the Annis case and was determined to help. Thanks to the friendliness of the local tennis club Catford Wanderers, they were able to give her a scholarship, which now allows her and the family to play as often as possible.
Annis is excited about the future: now I’m in the Under 14 Kent County Squad and play with a score of 7.1. My goals for the future are to keep moving forward, have fun, enjoy my tennis and see where it takes me.
Help create an ATP Finals legacy
In the past three years, tennis participation has grown steadily in November compared to other winter months. This is no doubt aided by the visibility of tennis nationally through the ATP Finals and the best players in the world.
Since 2012, the LTA has provided more than 5 million in capital grants and loans to nearly 50 locations in London, 17 of which are in South East and East London. The LTA is also working with South East London Tennis, Tennis Lewisham and Catford Wanderers Tennis club to provide more affordable tennis options.
The LTAs SERVES program has also helped introduce tennis to a wider range of people through sessions in housing associations, community centers, mosques and temples. More than 32,000 people participated in the program, with more than 936 trained to deliver sessions. In total, 75 SERVES organizations deliver SERVES programs in London, where nearly 60% of participants come from ethnically diverse communities.
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