East London Pupils in ball crew training for NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters


| Tennis Foundation News

With just days to go until the first ball is served at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, a total of 63 pupils from nine different schools in the surrounding East London boroughs are already hard in training for their all-important role as ball crew for the event.

From 30 November-4 December, the world’s top wheelchair tennis players will contest the season-ending Championship to be held at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London.

Now in its third year, the Ball Crew Programme sees children in years 9 and 10 given the chance to develop skills like teamwork, communication and initiative, while providing a world-class ball crew service to the best players on the Tour.  The pupils, many who have never played or experienced tennis are trained by professionals during training sessions held over four weekends prior to the tournament.

The schools involved include: Chingford Foundation School, Clapton Girls’ Academy, Kelmscott School, Leytonstone School, Norlington School for Boys (Waltham Forest), Rushcroft Foundation School, St Paul’s Way Trust School, The Urswick School and Walthamstow School for Girls.

Abhay Bygott, head of Physical Education at Norlington School for Boys in Waltham Forest highlighted the benefits of its pupils being part of the programme:  “One of the main reasons that Norlington has encouraged our students to be part of the ball crew for the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters is that it develops our student’s leadership qualities. This links directly to one of our school aims which is ‘to develop outstanding leaders across the school.’

“The ball crew programme also gives students a chance to interact with other students from different schools, developing their communication and social skills and focusing on fundamental skills such as hand eye co-ordination that is essential to any ball crew.  Our students also develop their understanding of tennis and awareness of the range of roles available in sport and the focus needed to succeed.”

Many of the pupils who undertook ball crew training in 2014 and 2015 have had the opportunity to be trained as Tennis Activators, gaining the knowledge, skills and resources to successfully run tennis sessions in their schools and local community.

The top eight ranked men’s and women’s players and top six quad players at the ITF ranking list cut-off of 10 October qualified for the Masters. Five British players; Gordon Reid (world No.2), Afie Hewett (world No.8), Andy Lapthorne (quad world No.4), Jordanne Whiley (world No.5) and Lucy Shuker (world No.8) will all be flying the flag for Britain later this month, with tennis fans able to watch the action for as little as £1 per ticket.

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