Two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal surprised 14 school children when he jumped on court to help coach a session at The Aegon Championships in London, to mark the 20,000th school supported by British Tennis.
Pupils from Oasis South Bank Academy in Waterloo were thrilled as they were treated to some top tips from the fourteen-time Grand Slam champion winner to celebrate the occasion.
Sports charity the Tennis Foundation, in partnership with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), has supported schools from across the UK with free teacher training, resources and equipment packs to give three million children the chance to have fun playing tennis.
Former ATP World No.1 Rafael Nadal said: “It is always fun to play with kids and I’m happy I could be here today to support British Tennis and the Schools Programme.
“It was nice to see the smiles on their faces.
“I have my own foundation which offers educational programs to the deprived, with a common denominator: sport.
“It’s a great way to be introduced to sport in schools and I hope I can inspire more to play tennis.”
Oasis South Bank Academy principal, Carly Mitchell, said: “It was an honour for our pupils to spend time with such an incredible player as Nadal and they’ve all been very inspired by the day and experiencing The Aegon Championships.
The charity’s programme, which has supported schools and universities over the past five years, is now a key part of the wider strategy to get more people playing.
LTA Chief Executive Michael Downey said, “We are delighted that one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors Rafael Nadal has given some of his time today to support British Tennis, helping inspire more young people to play tennis and commemorating this significant milestone reaching 20,000 schools.”
Executive Director of the Tennis Foundation, Geoff Newton, added: “With the launch of our refreshed Tennis in Education Strategy earlier this year, the Tennis Foundation made a renewed commitment to bring tennis to more young people, not just for the obvious health benefits that playing the sport brings, but also to improve performance and attendance in the classroom.”
The new social change programme being rolled out by the Tennis Foundation in 2015 is Beyond the Baseline which is delivered along with the Youth Sport Trust.
It sees current and former professional tennis players trained as mentors to inspire pupils on and off the court.
For more information, and to get involved, visit www.tennisfoundation.org.uk