Young players just love their free tennis lessons

Smash hit: Youngsters enjoy free tennis sessions in Highfield Park
Smash hit: Youngsters enjoy free tennis sessions in Highfield Park
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Tennis is proving a smash hit with children across Blackpool.

For a free scheme to promote the sport on under-used park courts has drawn scores of youngsters to the game.

Youngsters enjoying tennis in Highfield Park, along with coaches and councillors who have funded the activity.

Youngsters enjoying tennis in Highfield Park, along with coaches and councillors who have funded the activity.

Just a handful joined the first sessions 18 months ago, but now up to 40 are regularly turning up to practice their lobs and serves.

The scheme started on Highfield Park in South Shore but has now been extended to Cavendish Road Park in Bispham.

It is being funded using cash from the ward budgets of Highfield councillors Lily Henderson and Peter Hunter, and Bispham councillors Don Clapham and Henry Mitchell.

Last week players from both parks joined up for a mini-tournament at Highfield.

Natalia Posylek, 10, of North Shore, said: “I used to play a bit of tennis with my dad, but then I started coming to these lessons and it’s great.

“I really love tennis and I don’t think I would be able to play without this chance.”

James Taylor, 10, of Cheddar Avenue, South Shore, would like to emulate his hero Roger Federer.

He said: “I really love it, and prefer it to football now, because you are less likely to get injured and it’s more of an individual sport.

“I hope to carry on playing.”

His mum Lydia was among parents watching the tournament, who say without the free lessons children might miss out on the sport.

She said: “The coaches are fantastic and it is just real fun for them.

“James wanted tennis lessons, but with everything else you want children to do you are on a budget, so it was great when this started.”

Coach John Cain has been delighted with the numbers taking up tennis.

He said: “When we started we were getting three or four children but now over the two sessions at Highfield, we are getting up to 40 children.

“On top of that we have the children going to the Bispham sessions as well.

“They have come on so much since they started.”

Coun Henderson now hopes the success of the scheme will help her bid for funding from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to support more grass roots tennis in the resort.

She said: “I hope the LTA see how sincere we are about this because there isn’t much tennis played in our schools so this is the only chance for many youngsters to try the sport.

“I hope they see how much the children enjoy it, and maybe they will give us some funding.”