Disability tennis is proving a big hit

June 26 2015

A SPORTING initiative for disabled learners has been hailed a success by the Tennis Foundation.

A SPORTING initiative for disabled learners has been hailed a success by the Tennis Foundation.

In partnership with Kings Tennis Club in Bishopston, the City of Bristol College has piloted an LTA and Tennis Foundation-funded scheme to introduce more disabled learners to the game.

A group of 22 young people with learning difficulties and disabilities – all part of a three-year Horizons programme at the college’s Ashley Down centre – embarked on a six-week tennis course in April at the neighbouring Gloucestershire County Cricket Club sports hall.

Under the guidance of Tom Smith, a coach at Kings Tennis Club, the students learned various facets of the game, and got the chance to showcase their new-found skills in an inclusive tennis festival at the Kings club.

Richard Ayling, South West disability tennis development manager for the Tennis Foundation, said: “We offer enhanced support to various colleges and this has been one of several pilots where we have started to work more with Foundation learners.

“It’s the first time we have seen a structured programme at City of Bristol College and we are delighted with how well the provision for disability tennis has been driven.

“The feedback has been very positive and the festival celebrated the students’ developments over the last few weeks and showcased tennis as an adaptable, fun and inclusive sport.”

The Tennis Foundation is now looking to provide elements of teacher training in the programme, as well as encourage opportunities for learners to take on more responsibility within the sessions.

Gemma Parry, Sports Maker at the college, who initiated and organised the pilot tennis project, said: “The learners have really enjoyed their tennis and we are now hoping to include two more groups of foundation students in the City of Bristol College programme from September.

“It’s been great to see how the learners have developed, improved their co-ordination and foundation skills, and ultimately we hope they will go on to join clubs like Kings, where they can meet and enjoy recreational tennis with other disabled learners.”