In a year that has seen a revival of British tennis, the sport has received another boost this week, as the Australian former Wimbledon tennis champion, Pat Cash, opened a brand new tennis wall in North London.
The 1987 All England Club winner showed 15 youngsters at the sports site in Islington just why he was one of the world’s best players, with a coaching session that he hoped might set them on their way to championship glory.
The new facility at Rosemary Gardens (Arsenal FC’s Barclays Spaces for Sports flagship site), Southgate Rd, Islington on Thursday (1 November) has been built as part of the Barclays Spaces for Sports on-going programme with the Football Foundation.
Opening the site, Pat told the children how he hoped 2012 would mark the start of a British revival in tennis. The year has seen Andy Murray winning the US Open, the first grand slam of his career, and the gold medal in the men’s singles at the summer’s London 2012 Olympics. The British number one also teamed up with his female compatriot, Laura Robson, to deliver a silver medal for Team GB in the mixed doubles. Finally, the recent success of the British Women’s number one ranked player – Heather Watson – in the Japan Open shows the development of both the men’s and women’s game.
On the launch of the new tennis wall and Barclays tennis activity in general, Pat Cash commented: “It is fantastic to be able support grassroots tennis in London by opening the new tennis wall here which I hope, along with the rest of the Barclays tennis activity in London, will inspire people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to get involved with and enjoy tennis and leave a lasting legacy in the capital. It seems that this year has seen a revival of British tennis success – something I hope some of the youngsters using this facility help to sustain.”
Harvey Ramsey, aged nine, from Canonbury, who officially opened the new tennis wall with Pat Cash, said: “I really like playing tennis in Rosemary Gardens, so I think it’s great that Barclays have built us a new tennis wall. I think it is definitely going to help people like me to play and enjoy tennis more often.”
A Barclays Spokesman said: “The launch of the new tennis wall at Rosemary Gardens symbolises the significant contribution Barclays Spaces for Sports is determined to make to the revival of tennis in the UK. We hope that its use, along with various other tennis activity organised by Barclays, will inspire the young people to get involved in sport and leave behind a tennis legacy for future generations.”
The Barclays Spaces for Sports (BS4S) programme, which part-funded the £12,000 new tennis wall at the site with Islington Council (who own and manage Rosemary Gardens), are also giving away 1,000 free tickets for the Barclays ATP World Tennis Finals at the O2 in London on 6 November to young participants at their 200 sports sites across the country. 20 lucky participants will also have the chance to take part in a coaching session on the practice court at the O2 with another tennis legend, Boris Becker. Finally, for two very fortunate children from local BS4S sites, the ATP World Tour Finals will live long in the memory when they become mascots for the final itself, and will lead the players out onto court.
BS4S has also teamed up with tennis brand HEAD to deliver coaching sessions to a further seven sites across the UK (including London, Manchester, Liverpool, Reading and Birmingham) to help inspire young people to get involved in sport and create sustainable tennis activity.
Cllr Paul Smith, Islington Council’s executive member for environment, said: “We’re on the side of residents and committed to providing places in our parks where residents can play sport and keep healthy.”
“This excellent new tennis wall will help inspire more local people to get involved with the game – we hope it could help the next Andy Murray or Heather Watson to get started.”
The Rosemary Gardens site was opened in 2007 having received £600,000 of capital investment through BS4S and the Football Foundation, and received a further £50,000 development grant in December 2007. It also received £345,000 from Islington Council. The tennis wall will be an impressive addition to the site’s facilities which already include; two tennis courts, a 3G football pitch, and changing rooms, all funded through BS4S as well as basketball hoops, outdoor table-tennis tables and a children’s play area.
Barclays has a five year sponsorship deal with the ATP World Tour Finals, which sees the top eight tennis players in the world compete to become the ATP World Tour winner. This year’s event takes place from November 5 - 12 at the O2 arena.
For further information please contact:
Will Burton, Football Foundation PR & Communications Officer on: 0845 345 4555 ext 4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to Editors:
Barclays Spaces for Sports is a community-based sports programme, which uses sport as a platform to help young people develop life skills and revitalise disadvantaged communities in a sustainable way.
The programme is part of Barclays’ Citizenship strategy and how it supports the local communities in which it operates. In the UK there are 200 physical Barclays Spaces for Sports sites have been developed since 2004 in disadvantaged areas. These are managed in partnership with the Football Foundation and are used by over 53,000 people every week. Participation, not sporting excellence, is the focus.
In 2008 Barclays Spaces for Sports began to invest in innovative sport-for-development programmes around the world, and since then13 projects have been launched in China, Hong Kong, India, South Africa, Spain, the UK, the US, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Barclays has invested over £37m in the Spaces for Sports programme.
To find out more please visit www.barclays.com/spacesforsports