Former British number one Anne Keothavong has insisted that women will feel a huge sense of pride if they take part in a new initiative from the Lawn Tennis Association, Tennis Tuesdays.
The women-only programme was introduced in Manchester at Alexandra Park on Tuesday April 28 where girls took part in some sessions with Keothavong and CEO of Women in Sport Ruth Holdaway.
Tennis Tuesdays is designed to remove the apparent barriers that prevent women from playing tennis and Keothavong is positive that the programme will really make girls see the sport differently.
She said: “I’m sure every woman will feel a huge sense of gratification and satisfaction that they’ve done something and they’ve achieved something after these classes.
“I think sometimes women find it difficult or are a little bit self-conscious and they may be reluctant to try something different.
“Tennis Tuesdays is a great thing because it’s such a relaxed environment to play tennis in, it’s sociable, it’s fun and it’s a great workout where you’re using every muscle.”
Tennis Tuesdays was piloted last year across London and following that success will now be hosted in 100 venues across the UK in key places such as Manchester and Birmingham.
The LTA are working with Women in Sport and Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign to try and position tennis as a practical solution to the gender gap in sports participation.
Some of the barriers that often prevent women from playing tennis are not having someone to play with and not knowing how to access local facilities.
Keothavong added: “With tennis you need someone to play with but you come along to Tennis Tuesdays and you’ve got someone to play with, it doesn’t matter what level you are.
“The coach will be able to organise you into pairs of a similar standard and it’s all about just getting moving.”
No one necessarily needs to play on grass courts, for the average person playing on these all weather courts is good enough. The nets and court are in good condition, what more do you need?”
The sessions are designed to be informal and fun and each one is based on a key tactical theme that will help women to improve their tennis skills.
Women in Sport have found that nearly two million fewer women than men exercise regularly and the number of girls playing tennis weekly is just over 165,000.
Women in Sport are dedicated to changing these statistics and are supporting Tennis Tuesdays because it provides opportunities to be active but is also suits women’s lifestyles.
Ms Holdaway said: “I think for many women they haven’t played since school, maybe they need to dust down a racket but Tennis Tuesdays is great because they provide equipment.
“Women lead really busy lives, it’s hard to fit lots of things in but we all know we need to be fit and healthy.
“The great thing about Tennis Tuesdays is it’s sociable and it keeps you fit and if I can do it, you can do it, this girl definitely can.”
Tennis Tuesday’s begins on Tuesday May 5th and runs until Tuesday October 13th with sessions priced at £5-£9.
Image courtesy of James Jordan Photography, with thanks.