Suffolk: Murray’s magic will inspire young tennis hopefuls
- Credit: PA
Andy Murray’s historic win at Wimbledon will undoubtedly inspire generations of young tennis players, say top Suffolk coaches.
The landmark victory for the 26-year-old Scot - the first Brit to win the champion title in 77 years - will prove the “ignition point” for thousands of young hopefuls.
But Nino Severino, coach to Britain’s former number one Elena Baltacha, said we must not let the opportunity pass by.
Murray beat Novak Djokovic in straight sets on Sunday to become the first British men’s
champion since Fred Perry in 1936.
Mr Severino, who runs the Elena Baltacha Academy at Ipswich Sports Club, said: “You cannot underestimate the power of this platform and we will need to build on Murray’s legacy.
“It’s an ignition point for the sport - a point where we have ignited the interest of the world and now we mustn’t let it slip. “Murray’s win will certainly fuel interest in the sport. There is no understating that this is one of the biggest titles in the sporting world.
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“It is just remarkable. All of the media coverage will undoubtedly inspire the next generation of tennis players.
“Now children will dream of becoming tennis players, rather than football players.”
Ipswich tennis star Elena Baltacha, who was knocked out of Wimbledon’s first round by Flavia Pennetta, said all youngsters need a star to inspire them.
“When I was growing up there really wasn’t anyone from the UK to look up too. I think the fact I came from such a sporty family fuelled me on. I was inspired by Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova and used to watch them at Wimbledon,” she said.
“Andy will undoubtedly become a greatly inspirational figure to the younger generation and the fact he is one of ours is even better. It is a massive achievement for him.”
The Elena Baltacha Academy, which hopes to be awarded charity status in the next few months, visits schools across the county’s deprived communities in the hope of discovering talent that might otherwise have been undiscovered. It has also developed Learn, Play and Grow Clubs, which - working closely with the team at Ipswich Sports Club - is delivered to many schools in Suffolk. These sessions cater for three and four year olds.
Paul Sheldrake is chairman for Ipswich Sports Club and director of the Ipswich Parks Tennis Project. With the help of a grant from the Lawn Tennis Association for £167,000 he has developed the derelict courts at Christchurch Park, Ipswich, where they offer, amongst other things, free weekend training.
He said: “We have tried to rid the sport of the elitist badge and make it accessible to all.
“Judy Murray was full of praise for what we had achieved in Ipswich when she visited in March. Her son’s win will undoubtedly make the sport more popular.”
Speaking to Sky news, Andy Murray said he was optimistic that his triumph will have a positive legacy, adding: “I hope more kids start playing and I hope it’s not as long before another British winner.
“But it’s not my job, there are people who have to put things in place and give kids the opportunity to play. I hope my win has done a small part towards British players achieving better results.”
For details about Ipswich Parks Tennis Project visit www.ipswichparktennis.co.uk