A Great British Tennis Weekend

by Coach Aidan Elmore

On the Middle Sunday of the Wimbledon Championships, Hylands ran an Open Day in support of the Great British Tennis Weekend which is a nationwide campaign designed by the LTA to support tennis venues and attract more players by offering FREE trial opportunities to play. Since beginning in 2013, thousands of tennis clubs up and down the country have run GBTW events, enticing hundreds of thousands of people to play tennis. We provided the equipment (racquets and tennis balls). The only thing players needed to provide was comfortable sports clothing and a positive attitude.

The day started at about 9.30 am as we set up the mini nets and equipment ready to delivery many free trial sessions.

First on court were the Mini Tennis Tots, ages 4 to 6, started at promptly at 10 am and we kept the emphasis of fun. Following from the warm up. We progressed onto the main activities. I worked with Coach Dan on one court while coaches Alfie, Evie and Tennis leader Sophie worked on a different court. Dan led on the “Line Game” which is a high energy competitive game in which the aim is to learn what the names of the lines are called by being the fastest to react and reach the line that is called; this is a very popular game with children and young people of any age as it is an energetic game, improves reactions which is an important skill needed for tennis such as the ability to react to serves and it teaches the correct terminology of different areas of the tennis court. The session also included some very basic racquet and ball skills and some Fundamentals of Movement.

Next on was the Red ball group consisting of 7 and 8-year olds and we focused on introducing the basic for their forehands and backhands. Learning a good technique at an early age is very important. We also included a warm down of dodgeball as this game is not only great fun but it helps improve awareness and agility.
From 11.30 am to 12.30 pm we welcomed the Mini Tennis Orange & Green groups their ages ranging from 9 to 12. As players in these groups are a bit older we focused on feeding the ball over the net with a response of a forehand or a backhand instead of a drop feed. The line game was also used as a warm up for these two groups also.

We also included lots free play in the time between 10 am and 1pm, This provided participants with the opportunity to practise what they had learnt or simply to have some friendly rallies with their families and friends.

Overall, my impression was that welcoming children and young players while keeping the emphasis of ‘fun’ helped to make the whole day a rewarding experience for the 55 children and young people who attended. As a club known for its open access we welcomed all individuals equally regardless of disability, race, gender, age or ability in tennis as this enables us to widen access to tennis in the community. Tennis is seen by some people as an expensive sport to pursue and by providing Tennis for free days, free trials to our Learn and Play Programme, Satellite Clubs and tennis festivals we show that we are are making tennis accessible to everyone regardless of their personal means.

The coaching team is always keen to support this kind of initiatives and we are pleased to be part of a club which is so welcoming and we look forward to running this event again next year.

LTA Coach Aidan Elmore