Phyllis Court hosted a fundraising event for Tennis First, a grassroots tennis charity on Saturday and raised £10,000.
Members and guests enjoyed a fundraising lunch before a tennis demonstration from national rising stars as young as 8 from Billericay Tennis Club who showcased their talents.
Afterwards members of the tennis section at Phyllis Court Club had the opportunity to play with the older players.
Tennis First identifies players with the attributes to succeed at a world-class level and provides financial support to help them reach their target measure of a professional world ranking of 250 or better, through a grants programme and supports selected tennis clubs and centres to deliver their programmes. They have supported many GB tennis stars over the years including Emma Raducanu.
Ken Weatherley, Director at Tennis First said, “There are a lot of elements that go towards making the top tennis players and even people with great hand eye coordination and other attributes what is most imporant is they also need to have tennis in their heart. They need it in their heart to really want to compete and face adversity and everything else that goes with it. As well as celebrating the success of the players we need to thank all the people around them, particular the Mums and Dads who take them to all the training sessions and tournaments.”
In 2022 Tennis First launched their Get Ready! programme for 7-10 year olds. It is currently operating at 5 centres and hopes to expand to more centres after a review of effectivness of the programme. Susie Fellowes who heads up the programme said, “We’re coming to the end of our first year with five centres with 100 children at each one between the ages of 5-10. We want children from 4-5 being active with all sports so just building that hand-eye and foot-eye coordination. Then at 7 they move more into performance elements for tennis, but we still want them to play lots of sports. I go into the five centres and work with the head coach and I evaluate the whole programme and what they’re doing and look at their key players but also work together to do talent spotting.” Head Coach Helen from Billericay Tennis Club added, “The players here today are some of the top national players for their age. These 7-9 year olds train at least 3 times a week up to 5 times.”
Dianne Sayer from Phyllis Court who organised the event said, “I chose this charity because it is close to my heart and want to thank Phyllis Court for allowing me to host this event today. It’s really nice that the charity can help young people take up the game. For a long time people used to call tennis an elitist sport because only people who went to private schools or have tennis courts could afford to play and so it’s great that Tennis First helps anybody from any background to get on the court and they do a lot of fun games for them which I think is fantastic. We were lucky to be able to give our kids tennis lessons but lots of parents can’t afford to do that.”
Annie Arscott from Phylliss Court who volunteered to play said, “It is so important to support young tennis players in this environment with the expense and the time committment involved.”