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LTA SERVES Partnership: January 2020 – January 2023

Partners: LTA, SERVES, Tennis Foundation

On our journey delivering recreational sport and activities we have had the opportunity to work with the LTA to deliver tennis in the community as a ‘SERVES site. During this time we have had instances where we could upskill our work force and achieve accredited qualifications. Our work with the LTA started in 2019 and since then we have managed to get 9 of our team/volunteers complete a tennis activator qualification, whilst also getting another 5 members complete a Level 1 Tennis Coaching qualification. This not only furthers their chances of employment and makes them stand out, but it also allows for inner city young people to aspire to play or coach tennis because they have someone who is like them that they can relate to.

In the October half term of 2020 we supported the LTA in delivering a regional tennis fun day tournament where young people from throughout Birmingham were able to benefit and learn more about tennis as a whole but also what local hubs and opportunities were available to them. Following this event, most young people we spoke to wanted to play tennis on a more regular basis and asked us if we could create the pathway for them into local clubs and teams. Unfortunately not long after COVID 19 came along which gave us a setback, however we have in the last year taken some young people to Wimbledon to experience watching and being at a world famous stadium/event, to further develop their aspirations. We also delivered some tennis fun day tournaments for the local community during September and October 2022. The purpose of these tournaments was to encourage more young people to play tennis but also to link it in with the US Open tournament that was taking place at the same time and the second was a ‘Halloween Smash’ linking in with the time of year. The LTA provided us with themed incentives and prizes such as certificates, medals, stickers, banners a couple of inflatable trophies as well as LTA drawstring gym bags with some water bottles. This showed and incentivised participants how fun tennis can be and how accessible it is to them. During these tournament we engaged 40+ BAME individuals all of whom come from deprived inner city communities of Birmingham. Age ranges were 6-18 years old.

Wimbledon experience

Staff and young people were invited by the LTA to go to Wimbledon to not only have a tour of the stadium but to watch live matches on Court 2. Tickets were allocated by the lead coach speaking to volunteers and young people who had an interest in tennis and genuinely wanted to go and watch the historic competition. Those that showed an interest were then chosen and alongside staff, they travelled to Wimbledon before getting a shuttle bus to the stadium where they were able to take in the amazing scenery and atmosphere. Unfortunately matches were delayed due to rain but they did get a chance to watch Britain's

current number 1, Cameron Norrie who won his match impressively. Rain continued to ruin the day, but staff and young people made the most of their day by tucking into some world famous strawberries and cream and whilst walking around the grounds even got to meet the famous ‘Big Zu’.

Street Futures US Open

Our first competition had the theme of the US Open because it was being televised at the time and we wanted young people to be able to relate to what they were seeing on the television and in the media. Medals, certificates, stickers and banners were all themed around the US Open to give the tournament a more realistic feel. We held this tournament outdoors at South & City College, Bordesley Green campus. Everyone that took part got a certificate, stickers and the winning team got medals as well as a chance to take a photo with a big inflatable trophy! The tournament itself included three teams who had several players taking part that played both singles and doubles matches, to win points for their team. At the end of round robin, the team with most points was crowned winners. But what was more important was that we had young people who hadn’t played tennis before, really enjoy themselves and ask when the next one was going to be so they could practise in the park and school.

Street Futures Halloween Smash

A second tournament was designed and this was titled ‘Monster Smash’ for obvious reasons as it fell on the same weekend as Halloween. Again it was open to the entire local community for ages 6-20 years of age. What was really good to see is that we had more people and newer people take part in the tournament. We encouraged fancy dress, face painting and masks to go along with the theme. It had the same format of several players per team, round robin of fixtures, points collected each time you won a game, with the team at the end of the fixture list with the most points crowned as the winners. Credit also goes to the LTA who once more provided us with a tournament pack with themed medals, certificates, banners and another inflatable trophy for the winning team! We agreed as a collective that we want to do this on a more regular basis, perhaps not every month, but definitely once a quarter and to also incorporate tennis sessions as part of our regular delivery. We have since managed to secure some funding to put it on, on a regular basis during the summer of 2023.

During these events it is important to highlight the importance of our volunteers who were really professional and organised throughout the day. From arriving an hour before the tournament, leaving an hour after it finished, umpiring games, recording and maintaining scorecards, they really a have ran as smoothly as they did, if it wasn’t for them. To reward and further develop their skills we have enrolled them onto activator qualifications as well as identified who we would like to send on Level 1 Tennis Coaching qualifications. We would also like to thank the LTA for the tournament packs and continued support they provide us to deliver more tennis in the community.

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