AELTC & LTA collaborate to stage ‘Middle Sunday Opened Up’, a free community tennis festiv
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We have joined forces with the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), who host The Championships, Wimbledon, to capture the interest generated in the sport during Wimbledon by staging a free tennis festival for the local community in Wimbledon Park on the Middle Sunday of The Championships (7 July).
The ‘Middle Sunday. Opened Up’ tennis festival will provide an opportunity for the local community in Merton and Wandsworth to demonstrate their enthusiasm for tennis as this year’s Wimbledon reaches the halfway mark. The collaboration in staging the event follows the launch earlier this year of our new vision to open up the sport to many more people.
The festival is an evolution of the AELTC’s long-standing ‘Tennis in the Park’ event, which has traditionally taken place on the Middle Saturday with the support of Merton Council. The move to the Sunday, the day when The Championships’ grass courts receive critical rest and watering, and the opportunity to collaborate with us will help to elevate the event and maximise a shared ambition to celebrate the enthusiasm for tennis generated by the first week of Wimbledon.
The festival will run from 10am – 4pm, and will provide opportunities for anyone, no matter what their age or ability, to pick up a racket and have fun playing tennis. The day’s activities will include sessions for all levels and for both children and adults, provided by a combination of coaches from the LTA, from the local community, and from the AELTC’s Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative, which introduces tennis to children in schools across Merton and Wandsworth throughout the year.
Among the activities on offer will also be special sessions led by the LTA’s Fed Cup Captain, Anne Keothavong and Davis Cup Captain, Leon Smith, while Judy Murray will deliver fun sessions specifically aimed at young girls and teenagers. There may even be some guest appearances from other famous tennis faces.
Alongside the festival in Wimbledon Park, attendees will also have the opportunity to visit the Wimbledon Museum inside the AELTC Grounds, which will be open to members of the public from 10am to 4pm on Sunday 7 July.
If you live near Wimbledon or Merton, book onto an activity at the Middle Sunday Opened Up event for free through middlesunday.org
We are also running free tennis sessions across the country at Nature Valley Big Tennis Weekends and Open Days, find your nearest session today.
Scott Lloyd, LTA Chief Executive, said: “We are passionate about growing our sport making tennis a sport that can be for anyone. We are thrilled that the AELTC have shown their support for our new vision to open tennis up to many more people by working together with us on this event. Park courts are a crucial part of this work – Wimbledon Park is a brilliant facility for the community and I am looking forward to joining local residents for what will be a fun day of tennis.
“Throughout this summer we have been working to engage the communities around our major tennis events in our sport, and crucially not just getting them picking up a racket but providing opportunities to keep them coming back too. We’ve had 25,000 children enjoying tennis this summer already as a result of this programme, and the Middle Sunday. Opened Up festival will be a fantastic addition to that.”
Richard Lewis CBE, AELTC Chief Executive, commented: “We have a proud history of our WJTI activities in Wimbledon Park during the Wimbledon Fortnight, and we are delighted to be collaborating with the LTA and Merton Council to make this an even better event. Not only is Middle Sunday a critical day for us in enabling us to water and rest the Championships courts, it is also a great opportunity to provide our local community with the opportunity to celebrate Wimbledon on the court, as well as watching it.”
The Wimbledon Park courts are operated on behalf of Merton Council by Idverde, with the festival providing a showcase of the courts for the local community. We been working in partnership with Idverde to help improve the facilities and increase use of them. It is part of a national programme of support we are delivering to drive more play in parks and which saw over 50% growth in court hours booked across 234 supported parks last year.
Merton Cabinet Member for Commerce, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Caroline Cooper-Marbiah, said: “This free festival is a brilliant opportunity for everyone to experience a taste of tennis inspired by the atmosphere of the world’s greatest tennis players being in town. I urge as many residents as possible to take the chance to enjoy a fun training session with Judy Murray, Anne Keothavong or Leon Smith. I am particularly pleased that the event will feature fun sessions specifically aimed at young girls and teenagers.
“We are delighted to have collaborated with the AELTC and LTA to help create this wonderful free community festival which aims to open up the joy of playing tennis to all our residents whatever their age or ability. The Championships bring such an amazing buzz to the borough and a great opportunity for us to showcase our tennis facilities here in Merton, which we have recently been working to improve.