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Rockwood Academy and Nansen Primary among Britain’s first ‘Schools of Tennis’

Rockwood Academy and Nansen Primary have scored a grand slam after being hand-picked to take part in a national pilot scheme aimed at encouraging pupils to play tennis.

They are among just 21 schools across the UK to have been named as a School of Tennis.

The initiative, by leading charity the Tennis Foundation, aims to radically change the way tennis is delivered in schools – making it more relevant and engaging for children from all backgrounds and attempting to rid it of its elitist image.

The programme is set to be rolled out over the next two years, with 150 Schools of Tennis due to be created by 2018.

Teachers at Rockwood and Nansen have been trained to be tennis coaches while students have also signed up to play a key part in delivering the teaching of tennis at the two schools.

It is hoped the initiative will also put a stop to the current national trend which sees a sharp dip in tennis participation among teenagers as many don’t realise the varieties of the sport available away from the traditional game.

The School of Tennis programme aims to reverse this decline by giving schools the support and funding they need so they can deliver tennis in the form and way that best suits their individual school and their pupils.

Each school will receive up to £5,000 to deliver the programme, and schools will work together in ‘cluster’ areas to share best practice and support one another.

Adrian Packer, CEO of CORE Education Trust which runs Nansen Primary and Rockwood Academy, said the project was an “incredible opportunity” for pupils at the two schools – many of whom are entitled to free school meals.

He added: “I don’t want our students to have the misconception that tennis is an elitist sport that is only available to a privileged few.

“The School of Tennis programme will provide our students with high quality access to a sport that they have told us they want more of.

“They will relish the opportunity to take advantage of all the exciting elements of this innovative new initiative.

“The Tennis Foundation is bold and uncompromising in its aspiration to make tennis accessible to young people from all backgrounds and we are proud to support their important work to broaden and strengthen tennis participation in schools.”

Paul Williams, Schools Tennis Manager at the Tennis Foundation said: “We’re looking forward to supporting these schools so that they can make tennis more appealing to their particular students and subsequently enjoy all the physical and social benefits which tennis brings.”

The pilot programme will be evaluated by the Sports Industry Research Centre.

The scheme will also see pupils being given access to events hosted by the Lawn Tennis Association – a partnership which has already seen Nansen Primary and Rockwood Academy pupils meeting Britain’s top players during the Davis Cup at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena earlier this month (March).

The youngsters had the opportunity to quiz tennis ace Dominic Inglot – who revealed Andy Murray was the “cheekiest” member of the five-strong Aegon Davis Cup GB team.