LTA Chief Executive Scott Lloyd believes a boom in British tennis can inspire a new generation to pick up a racket following ‘Middle Saturday Opened Up’ in Wimbledon Park.
Held just a stones’ throw from the All England Club, ‘Middle Saturday Opened Up’ saw dozens of children take part in free sessions encouraging them to get on court.
The event took place on the middle Saturday of The Championships, returning for a third year since the first edition in 2019, having previously taken place on the middle Sunday – and featured appearances from the likes of Ryan Peniston, Alastair Gray and Jodie Burrage.
The event brought communities across Merton and Wandsworth together and supported the LTA’s vision of ‘tennis opened up’, demonstrating the vital role park courts play as community assets in providing accessible opportunities to play.
With ten British players having reached the second round at Wimbledon – the most since 1984 – Lloyd believes this is the perfect time to capture the public’s imagination and get a new generation involved.
“It’s so great to see so many children coming together and enjoying picking up a racket, picking up a ball and actually starting to feel their way into tennis. It’s initiatives like this, under the banner of LTA Youth that’s going to be so important in growing our sport for the future,” said Lloyd.
“The first thing is to have the largest possible fanbase, the interest in tennis, and of course The Championships is very important in that respect, and then to engage with that fanbase and get them to pick up a racket – the success of British players is so important and it’s great to see players winning matches.
“The Championships is an incredible showcase for tennis in our country and we have to garner that enthusiasm and make sure that we take it to as many different people as we possibly can, but it’s also important to remember and promote the benefits of tennis as a all year-round sport – which it very much is.
“It’s about taking the enthusiasm and the interest and making sure we can keep people engaged, playing tennis all year round.”
The event was an important way of showcasing the partnership between the All England Club and the LTA, ensuring that children from all backgrounds get the opportunity to play.
John Golding, LTA Head of Region London & East, added: “We’ve really been able to showcase the partnership between the LTA and the All England Club and open up the sport to the local community.
“It’s incredibly important and the opportunity we have through LTA Youth to allow children of all backgrounds to play is one we want to be able to push to as many people as possible and make them aware of it – and this is what this kind of event does.
“We really want to make sure as many people are aware of the sport as possible and Wimbledon is the ultimate showcase for the sport. When people are hearing about it, this is the right time to give them the chance to try it as well.”
For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA Website