Tennis For Kids: free lessons from LTA target 20,000 children across UK

Greg Rusedski and Annabel Croft launch Tennis for Kids with some children

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has followed up last year's launch of Tennis for Kids with an expanded programme of free lessons for children aged five to eight.

Nearly 1,000 coaches have undergone training to deliver the course of six lessons, which are available to 20,000 participants across the UK.

Children who attend at least four lessons receive a free tennis racquet.

Lessons begin on Saturday, 22 April and continue throughout the summer.

GB Davis Cup captain Leon Smith helped to lead the coach training programme, along with former British number ones Annabel Croft and Greg Rusedski and Wimbledon champion in wheelchair doubles Alfie Hewett.

Rusedski and Croft were present at the launch event at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton on Tuesday, 4 April, hosting a session with 20 children who took part in last year's course.

Croft said: "As a parent myself, seeing more and more children taking to the courts is great, and it is inspiring to see them enjoying tennis, having fun, learning a new skill and getting active from such a young age.

"Programmes such as this one are a brilliant way of encouraging children to pick up a racquet for the first time."

The course is aimed at children who have never played the sport before before, focusing on fun and getting kids active, combining basic hand eye co-ordination with rudimentary tennis skills.

A total of 13,200 children took part in the scheme in 2016, with subsequent research revealing that nearly half of those taking part continued to play tennis after the course of lessons ended.

The LTA's director of participation Alastair Marks said: "We were bowled over with the results last year and wanted to build on the legacy and provide even more children across the country the opportunity to pick up a racket and have fun playing tennis.

"Initiatives such as this are so important in introducing children to a sport they might not necessarily have tried and helping to drive increased participation in our sport."

To get involved in Tennis for Kids, parents can sign their children up online for participation at their nearest venue.

Local clubs are responsible for their own timings, so some lessons may be at the weekend (starting on 22 April) and some in mid-week.