By Daisy Young
Since Andy Murray won Wimbledon in 2013 the profile of tennis has risen rapidly with more and more young people getting into the sport.
This is despite the overall number of people participating in tennis going down due to funding cuts.
In 2013 the same year that Murray won Wimbledon, participation fell from 423,400 in April to 406,000 after cutbacks were imposed.
However Horsforth Tennis Club committee member John Barton believes his club is still seeing an increase in numbers.
“We usually get increase in youngsters coming to coaching this time of year but we have had more than usual last month or two” said Barton.
This is due to the proximity of the French Open and the Wimbledon just a few weeks later. These are perhaps the two most watched tennis tournaments in the UK due to their TV coverage and help to inspire young children to get involved in tennis.
The Horsforth based club are always looking for new members and have a couple of plans in the pipeline to bring people in.
“We have plans to extend the coaching opportunities over the next year or so and delivering free school tennis days at Junior schools in the Horsforth area” revealed Barton.
Barton believes that retention is key to getting children involved in the sport and sticking with it throughout their teenage years.
He added: “All children get a free membership if both of their parents join and this tends to keep them coming. We have an equal number of girls and boys at youngest age group (seven and under) but more boys than girls in the older age groups.”
However the general levels for adult participation are decreasing at the club but Barton said of how they are trying to change this.
“The key to getting people in is availability of coaching at convenient times – for adult beginners as well as children. This is an area we’ve promoted by offering ten free coaching lessons in 1st year of joining as a full member.” said Barton.
— Horsforth Tennis (@horsforthtennis) May 12, 2015
The club runs throughout the year even in the winter months, “The courts are all weather surfaces and the only thing that stops many of us ‘hardy nutcases’ playing is snow and ice on the courts!” joked Barton.
The French Open is currently in full swing and we have already seen a number of high-profile names exit the competition in the early rounds.
Shock First Round Exits at this year’s French Open
Eugenie Bouchard Feliciano Lopez
Venus Williams Grigor Dimitrov
Barton is tipping Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams to Grand Slam victory, “Andy Murray & Rafael Nadal will both be up there as well and perhaps Roger Federer but I have my doubts as to whether he can go all the way.
“As for women contenders, clearly Maria Sharapova has to be a contender but quite a few others could win on the day if they play to their full potential but unfortunately they too often don’t particularly when facing Williams.” said Barton.
French Open – The Bookies’ View
Djokovic is outright favourite for the male title at 5/6 and Nadal is second at 4/1. Murray is third on 8/1.
Two time Women’s Champion Serena Williams is once again the female favourite at 2/1. Last years champion Maria Sharapova is second favourite at 10/3.