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TIA members embrace Great British Tennis Weekend

Clubs and parks across the country will offer tennis for free this on May 16 and 17 as the first Great British Tennis Weekend of the year takes place

As part of the Lawn Tennis Association and Tennis Foundation’s drive to get more people playing tennis more often, more than 10,000 free coaching and social sessions will be available across three weekends this summer

The first Great British Tennis Weekend takes place on May 16 and 17 with tennis venues around the UK offering free court time and coaching as well as Mini Tennis and Cardio Tennis sessions.

Designed to get people of all ages and abilities to get back into tennis, or to attract new players who have never picked up a racket before, the Great British Tennis Weekend aims to get more people playing tennis by offering free opportunities to play.

“We are really excited to see thousands of people take to the courts this summer at the Great British Tennis Weekends,” said LTA Head of Participation Rob Dearing. “With so many clubs and parks right across Great Britain opening their doors for free there really is something for everyone. I hope families take the opportunity to get involved in these fantastic events and ready themselves for what is set to be a special summer of tennis.”

As the UK’s biggest free public tennis event, the weekend offers clubs the chance to boost membership as well as a marketing opportunity for businesses. Tennis Industry Association members have seen the potential for reaching new audiences and jumped at the chance to get involved.

TIA UK member Bromley Tennis Centre in Kent took part in the Great British Tennis Weekends in 2014 and will run free play sessions during this year’s events, in May, June and August.

“Each free play session had a focus on either an age group, families or playing level,” explains Deputy General Manager Sarah Langford of the 2014 activity at Bromley. “We took the view that if we had something available each weekend, we would hit the biggest possible audience. We hoped to therefore attract a range of players to the centre, not just beginners.”

Of the 185 people who pre-registered on the club spark website last year, 30 have gone on to join the programme and four have progressed in their respective age groups, while two are now regularly competing in internal and external junior competitions.

“We think that we had some of the most successful turnouts at each session in the area,” said Langford. “As a team we assessed last year’s success and decided this year we will run sessions as before. The focus of the sessions will again be free play for set age groups, families or abilities because this worked well last year. Our coaches will facilitate as before and up sell the programme and other activites we offer.”

On Saturday, May 16 Bromley Tennis Centre will be offering junior free play between 5:00-6:30pm and on Sunday there will be adult free play between 1:00-2:30pm.

TIA UK member REBO wall will be in Nottingham on May 16 as part of this weekend’s promotions. The LTA will be installing a REBO wall at Nottingham’s Market Square where juniors can challenge former British No.1 Greg Rusedski to REBO’s ‘You vs Wall challenge’, a campaign to promote grass-roots ‘doorstep’ tennis participation.

“We’re extremely excited to launch our You vs Wall challenge and to be a part of the first Great British Tennis Weekend [of 2015],” said founder and director Adrian Hutchins. “The day will be a great opportunity for players to see what REBO is all about – to encourage more people to pick up a racket and play tennis in non-traditional environments.”

TV commentator and REBO ambassador Mark Petchey will be developing specific drills and games, while users are encouraged to film their most impressive rallies and trick shots for a chance to win tennis equipment, tickets to ATP and WTA events and REBO coaching sessions.

JEM Tennis in Hampshire is opening its doors to the public on Sunday, May 17, and is offering free Mini Tennis, cardio tennis, Miss Hits and adult tennis sessions.

“We did it last year but it was quieter than anticipated so we have actively promoted it better this time,” said Director of Tennis Colin Murphy. “The LTA promotion this year has been outstanding so we are hoping for a big turnout and hopefully attract some new members.”

The Great British Tennis Weekend 2015 takes place across three weekends: May 16-17, June 13-14 and August 1-2. So far 920 venues have signed up for the 2015 Great British Tennis Weekend. There were 1,211 venues and 2,032 events across four weekends in 2014.

For more information go to www.lta.org.uk/gbtw