Schools, colleges and universities are in contention for national recognition after being named as regional winners in the annual British Tennis Awards.
Among the winners are establishments that are part of the Tennis Foundation’s wide ranging support for tennis in education, with innovative programmes such as School of Tennis driving a radical change in the way tennis is delivered in schools, and a growing and successful university tennis programme.
The regional winners, alongside those from Tennis Scotland and Tennis Wales, will now go forward to national judging, with the overall winners being invited to Wimbledon to receive their awards.
The British Tennis Awards celebrate the achievements made by outstanding individuals and venues across the country throughout the past year.
Launched in 2015 with the help of former LTA president Cathie Sabin OBE and the Tennis Foundation, the British Tennis Awards are in place to thank those supporting the grassroots of the game.
A record-breaking total of 1,460 nominations were cast last autumn, before County British Tennis Award winners were named from December to March. Those winners were then whittled down to 50 regional winners across 10 categories.
The Education Award is for a school, college or university which:
• has, in the past year, offered a significant and varied tennis programme of coaching and competitions for a large proportion of students or pupils of all abilities.
• offers students or pupils the chance to develop their life and/or employability skills through tennis, by offering courses such as Tennis Leaders, Coaching Assistant, Competition Organisers and/or Coaching Qualification courses.
• has successful and sustainable links with the local community and/or local tennis venues
The winners below are all examples of the fantastic work going on throughout the country to help develop tennis for young people in schools, colleges and universities.
Acklam Whin Primary School (Durham & Cleveland)
Acklam Whin offers all their pupils the opportunity to attend after school, lunchtime and break-time mini tennis clubs at various times of the year.
They have developed a school club link with Tennis World and now have several children attending the club regularly. Children who have represented the school have been provided with rackets to enable them to progress with their tennis outside of school.
2017 has been a great year for Acklam Whin. For the second year running they have been the Year 3 Middlesbrough Champions, Year 3 Tees Valley Champions, and Year 3 North East Grand Final Champions. They have also represented Middlesbrough in the Year 4 School Games They made the finals in both 2016 & 2017, becoming Champions in 2017.
University of Nottingham (Nottinghamshire)
The University of Nottingham offers a comprehensive programme for all students from beginner to international athlete. Approximately 150-170 students play tennis weekly.
The club programme supports 250 members with up to 10 hours of tennis at one of the biggest tennis centres in the country. The sessions are led by volunteers that are tutored by the full-time coaching team to run sessions for beginner, intermediate and advanced players.
The coaching team at The University of Nottingham also coach throughout the region with Chris McGill, Matt Wildt and Carl Saxby working as part of On The Ball coaching that work with Woodthorpe and Southwell Tennis Clubs. Ash Broomhead also coaches on the programme that is responsible for the AASE scheme for the region.
The University of Nottingham boasts a strong sporting programme (3rd best in the country, at the time of writing) and the tennis is a high performing part of sport. They are ranked 2nd place for BUCS points.
Thorpe St Andrew High School (Norfolk)
Tennis is offered to all pupils at Thorpe St Andrew High School, with multiple after school clubs, which are free, being on offer from the P.E staff. Competitive opportunities for teams are on offer every year, and typically they have at least one team representing at regional level after winning the county rounds. The school is also the hub for delivery to its feeder primary schools; some access the site for coaching with use of its sports halls or six floodlit tennis courts. External opportunities are supported with the programme provided by Tennis Edge, which allows pupils and the local community to access coaching and competitive opportunities all year round.
The school is a leader in developing leadership skills within pupils across all sports. With a high proportion of pupils moving up from primary school to Thorpe with knowledge of tennis due to its support of tennis delivery.
Not only have the school’s PE staff been brilliant in the continued support and growth of tennis at the school, but credit is also due to Ian Clayton (the Head). Mr Clayton has supported the schools exceptional performers, often allowing extra time off to train, prepare for or play in events.
Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls (Middlesex)
Ellen Wilkinson School became a School of Tennis in 2017 and now over half of the pupils (720) have played tennis during the last academic year.
8 girls were selected across Years 7 to 11 to be Tennis Ambassadors. They attended a training day which gave them some creative ideas of how they could increase participation in tennis across the school and lead sessions themselves.
The school has a link with Zekel Tennis, who uses their facilities outside of school hours and have been responsible for delivering a series of CPD sessions for the whole PE department. The school provided leaders not only for the Level 2 London Youth Games (Year 3 & 4 Red ball) but also the LYG finals at Crystal Palace.
Balcarras School (Gloucestershire)
Throughout the week the school offers a comprehensive tennis programme for every pupil in Years 11 to 13. In addition curriculum tennis is offered, backed up by lunch clubs and after school sessions.
There are over 20 tennis leaders at the school. They are given the opportunity to lead sessions at their primary school festival, where local primary schools are invited to a tennis festival at the school. This maintains strong links with their feeder schools.
The school has a strong link to the on-site club (Charlton Kings Tennis Place). This is beneficial both ways, the club assisting in the school’s early morning tennis sessions and the school actively promoting the club’s coaching and membership packages.
Dundee & Angus College
D&A Sports has included locally developed tennis units into level 4, 5 & 6 of the curriculum, with further volunteering opportunities included at level 7 & 8. The introduction of the tennis programme into the curriculum has resulted in 48 hours of dedicated lecturer hours so far in the academic year. This has enabled 58 students to take part in tennis for a minimum of 8 weeks.
D&A’s weekly touch tennis club is open to all students and staff (Abertay University students included) and has had over 65 participants this year. They also have a weekly inclusive touch tennis club (for supported education students) which has had 10 players participating regularly since it started in November 2017. They also held a touch tennis winter event.
32 students have been involved in 8 week coaching placements in local primary schools. This has resulted in over 700 primary school pupils picking up a racket and playing tennis for a minimum of four weeks.
Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg
Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg played competitive school tennis for the first time in 2017 which saw them win the league. The school have significantly increased the amount of tennis they teach and play both during and after school. A four month programme is now offered from Easter, which resulted in 540 pupils playing tennis.
In 2016/17 10 pupils who were studying PE at GCSE level had the opportunity to attend the Tennis Leaders Award. Younger players also volunteered with Tennis Wales helping to run local Tennis Festivals for primary school children.
For more on the British Tennis Awards, and to see the full list of regional winners across all categories, click here.