IT IS the perfect opportunity to hone your tennis skills without being parted from your hard earned Pat Cash.
As Wimbledon gets under way and tennis fever sweeps the UK, free coaching is to be made available in Edinburgh 50 weeks of the year in an attempt to find the next Andy Murray.
The two-hour coaching sessions will be available every Sunday at St Margaret’s Park in Corstorphine, beginning June 30 at 2.30pm.
Tennis in the Park, Edinburgh Leisure and the charity Tennis For Free are working together to encourage people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to come and pick up a racket.
Gordon Watson is the man behind Tennis in The Park, which will be running the onsite coaching programme.
He said: “We are aiming to provide tennis play, coaching and competitive opportunities for all members of the community – who knows, maybe the next Andy Murray is about to start playing at Tennis in the Park.
“I work for private tennis clubs but obviously, you have to be a member to take part.
“It costs quite a lot of money, especially for families and I wanted to make tennis accessible for everybody so that people who might not have considered tennis might give it a go.”
Having had the idea, Gordon contacted Edinburgh Leisure about the prospect of using St Margaret’s Park for his ambitious venture.
During the sessions, four instructors will be on hand to coach participants and it is hoped to develop the scheme long term to include teams and introduce social nights.
Gordon said: “I really just wanted to do something a bit different. I looked at the different models in Holland and the US and I thought if I could offer tennis lessons at low cost people might do it.
“It’s not a club – it’s a place to play, a kind of hub for the sport.”
Tennis For Free aims to work with schools, tennis clubs and local authorities to create tennis communities utilising public park court facilities free of charge.
Chief executive officer Paul Jessop said: “It’s a great opportunity to get people of all ages partaking in some enjoyable and healthy activity.”
To attend the free sessions you will need to sign up at www.tennisinthepark.co.uk.
Mac mouths off at airport
Tennis legend John McEnroe thought baggage handlers could not be serious when his luggage was delayed at Edinburgh Airport.
The former World No 1, who became notorious for his outbursts at umpiring decisions in the eighties and nineties, was arriving in the city for the ATP Champions Tour.
But airport bosses were forced to apologise to the 54-year-old, pictured right signing an autograph for a fan, who was reportedly miffed at having to wait to pick up his baggage from the carousel on his arrival from New York.
A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: “Edinburgh Airport was delighted to welcome to the Capital many of the stars playing in this weekend’s tournament. Unfortunately Mr McEnroe’s bags took longer than expected to be processed and we apologised to him at the time for any delay.”
At the tournament itself, Australian player Mark Philippoussis was far more relaxed as he took to the court, even serving from the comfort of a chair as he played to the crowds at the arena.