Nature Valley Classic: Ash Barty and Harriet Dart hit the school playground in Birmingham
• 3 MINUTE READ
Barty was in Birmingham with British Fed Cup star Harriet Dart ahead of the start of the Nature Valley Classic, which got underway yesterday at the city’s Edgbaston Priory Club.
The pair were taking part in a taster session with pupils from the Moseley Primary School as part of an LTA programme which will see over 5,000 youngsters from 42 local schools get their first taste of the sport this week as the tournament takes place.
The 23 year-old Australian took time out from the sport in 2014 and switched to cricket to play for Brisbane Heat in the women’s Big Bash in her native country. After returning to tennis in 2016, she capped her comeback with her first ever Grand Slam in Paris earlier this month and is now looking ahead to the grass court season and returning to Birmingham for the Nature Valley Classic.
Speaking after the session with the schoolchildren, who were trying tennis for the first time, she said:
“This is when tennis is at its best and opened up for kids from any background to enjoy. It was a big reason why I came back to the sport because I remember how I felt when I picked up a racket for the first time and have that smile across my face. All I wanted to do was play and I couldn’t wait to learn something new again. It’s amazing to see so many kids involved now.”
“The advice to the kids I met today was to just enjoy it and embrace it. Playing tennis can give you so many relevant skills. It’s a sport you can play for life and it’s a pretty amazing one to take part in. There are so many different opportunities to get involved.”
The Australian is hoping to go one better in Birmingham this week then two years ago when she lost out in the final to Petra Kvitová and starts her campaign against Donna Vekic today.
“It’s always nice to be back in Birmingham, especially as it’s somewhere where I’ve had success before. It’s a great way for me to prepare for Wimbledon. I’ve seen plenty of rain but it doesn’t take long for me to acclimatize. The courts play well and they’re beautiful it’s just about the sun coming out and getting out on court.”
Meanwhile Dart, who also opens in the singles today (Tuesday) against two-time French quarter finalist Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan and will also line up in the doubles with Venus Williams this week added:
“Meeting the kids this morning was great fun – it’s really important that tennis is accessible to everyone so hopefully some of these kids will want to pick up a racket now.”
She added: “I haven’t been back here for a few years so I’m just really super excited to get on court and play. Having the Fed Cup has been a real boost. It’s great when you play at home and have the advantage of playing in front of a British crowd so I’m looking forward to this week in Birmingham.”
School children taking part in the taster sessions this week will also get a chance to play tennis at their local venue for free this weekend as part of the Nature Valley Big Tennis Weekend and sign up for Tennis for Kids, the LTA’s biggest grassroots participation programme.
Catch courtside action at the Nature Valley Classic!
Watch world class tennis in Birmingham and secure your tickets online today - tickets are available from £47 per adult (£12 for students and children under 16).