As we have the first ever British World Number One tennis player, does this mean that the future of tennis in the UK is looking good? It’ll be very interesting to see whether in 10, 20 years time, we’ll see another World Number One from the British Isles. Has the LTA done enough to inspire children to get into the sport, rather than playing the more mainstream football or rugby?
I play tennis at my local club, and I absolutely love the sport, and we need to share this passion across the country. However, the problem that the sport is facing in this country is that tennis is so expensive. The average cost of a tennis membership in London is £241.50 per year. Hiring a court for an hour is very costly, and the price of a good tennis racket is too dear, so the parents are sometimes put off sending their children to tennis, and will rather let them play football, where it is much cheaper. If the LTA could try and enforce tennis clubs to bring the price down for memberships, then we will see a rise in tennis players of all ages.
As we have seen recently, the BBC have invested in extending the rights for the Wimbledon Championships and the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals. It is fantastic to see that tennis is gaining exposure from terrestrial television. In order to be fully inspired by a sport, you have to see the best in the game, and by having grand slams and other big tournaments being televised on free-to-air channels, we will see young children turning up to tennis, rather than being pulled towards football and rugby.
At a school level, tennis isn’t very high up on the priority list, as other summer sports tends to dominate the Physical Education Curriculum. It gives me the impression that tennis is only a sport to be played as an after-school club, which is a shame, because I strongly believe that children would enjoy tennis more if it was promoted to them at a younger age. From my years as a primary school child, it was very rare that we would be able to play tennis, and there would have to be a specific tennis coach to come in and teach us.
However, I do admire some ideas that the LTA are coming up with, such as various weekends where you could play various tennis activities for free. I imagine that its aim is to get young children involved and help them develop a passion to play tennis. To really enjoy a sport, you have to play it, and this is a fantastic opportunity to get the ball rolling.
We will have to see in the next five years whether British tennis is making a step in the right direction, or is ruining the moment to get children into tennis when Andy Murray is World Number One.