The tennis industry can be a tough market to crack, but one new business is bucking the trend as REBOwall looks to expand across the UK and beyond in 2015.
Tennis coach Adrian Hutchins spotted a gap in the tennis market last year and founded REBOwall, building and installing pre-fabricated rebound walls that can be installed in small spaces such as car parks, school playgrounds and community centres.
In June, the company installed a wall at the the Young Hackney Concorde Centre in East London, and last week returned to the site to launch a national campaign to make tennis more accessible for inner-city children. Former British No.1 Mark Petchey took a coaching session in the rain as local children got their first taste of tennis and the rebound wall.
“Most schools, councils and communities are struggling for space,” said Petchey. “A tennis court takes up an enormous amount of space where you can really only have four people playing at one time. With a REBOwall you can have a bigger group of kids playing together, having a good time. I do feel it’s massively important to make tennis more accessible and it is great to see so many kids have the opportunity to play tennis, some for the very first time.”
“The Hackney REBOcoaching session went brilliantly,” Hutchins told TIA UK News. “Even though it was raining not one of kids wanted to go back inside the warm centre to play Xbox. Mark genuinely inspired the local kids to pick up a racket and have a go – most of the kids hadn’t even held a tennis racket before, let alone had professional coaching.
“The Hackney REBOcoaching sessions are very well attended – even on a cold, dark, rainy November night the kids chose to play tennis against a wall rather than play football, Xbox or get involved in any other distractions. It’s genuinely inspiring.”
Hutchins, whose company’s mission is to “start a tennis ‘REBOlution’ and get more people learning, practising and playing tennis whenever they want, in any location, on a REBOwall”, is set to install two rebound walls at Gosling International High Performance Centre in Hertfordshire and has received enquiries from as far afield as the USA, Japan, Russia and Australia.
“Our main focus at the moment is on forming strategic partnerships to establish and promote the many benefits from regularly practising and playing on a REBOwall,” explains Hutchins. “We have installed REBOwalls in a number of tennis clubs and are keen for more inner-city councils to see the benefits the REBOwall in Hackney has had on the local community and help us grow the sport.
“There is no reason why a REBOwall shouldn’t be in every tennis club, health and fitness centre, university, school or community centre. It’s clear that the demand for REBOwall is growing day by day, in the UK and globally.
“We want to reach out to non-traditional tennis environments – areas where it’s impossible to put a court or too expensive to join a club – and get more people playing the game, even if they have never been able to in the past.
“If more kids are introduced to tennis and start playing tennis regularly, then it’s obvious that this will feed into the local club networks and increase participation throughout the tennis network.”