Tennis: Coach has plans to get Edinburgh to the net

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Children of today are most certainly catered for in a sporting capacity with an abundance of development courses readily available at any time of the year. As a matter of fact, it would be fair to suggest they’re spoilt for choice.

On the other hand, the same cannot be expressed for adults with fewer leisure and recreational opportunities coinciding with the constraints of balancing work commitments and spending quality time with loved ones.

RollingBall Tennis, however, has recently piloted Tennis Xpress, a new project in Edinburgh which hopes to encourage adults to the court with the launch anticipated early next year.

Tennis Xpress is supported by the Lawn Tennis Association. Low compression balls (softer) which slow the game down and alllows players to learn faster are used as well as a variety of court spaces so players can focus on the fundamentals.

Andrew Haw, creator of RollingBall Tennis and senior coach, believes the use of more proficient equipment and the decrease in court dimensions will provide a more suitable induction to the rookies of the racquet sport.

Haw said: “The initiative will enable adults who share an interest in tennis whether it be beginner level or players who haven’t had lessons for years who want to return to the court and become comfortable playing the game again. As a coach, something I’ve noticed for many years is a large share of adults who would like to play but find the court too big to gain much enjoyment. The main advantage of Tennis Xpress is the aim of getting players to be competitive from their first lesson whilst learning the fundamentals.”

As part of a project organised by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and support from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), it is hoped Tennis Xpress will follow suit from the hugely successful junior alternative ‘mini tennis’. This particular programme also utilises the advantage of low compression balls which enables children to learn the game at a slower and more suitable pace – a desire Haw has preached for some time to be introduced into an adult setup.

“I think we’ve required something like this for quite a while now so it’s good someone has finally taken note.” Haw said. “Throughout the world there have been 80 piloted projects but this is the only one in Scotland. It’s an opportunity for me to start something that is going to be worldwide but at a local level in the Edinburgh community. I feel quite strongly about adult sports development and that tennis, amongst other sports, is too heavily influenced towards seasoned players. The Tennis Xpress programme, however, allows clubs to increase the value of their membership and their leads within the community.

“There will be more taster sessions throughout this autumn at Abercorn, Joppa and Murrayfield Tennis Clubs. Early indications suggest it is gaining momentum and I hope this is a trend that will continue come the launch in early 2012.

“I want as many adults to come along and find an ability that allows them to go out onto the court and just enjoy themselves. I’m really looking forward to getting it up and running and we’ll see what numbers are like come the turn of the year.”

Peter Gordon, tennis development manager for the East of Scotland, is confident this new initiative will encourage a new tennis generation in the Capital as well as restoring some passion to as many of the game’s existing admirers.

He said: “We hope it’s going to be a big success. It seems a great method of getting people back into tennis and as it’s a quick and relatively easy way to learn the basics, beginners should find that little bit more confidence in their play.”

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