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Basford Hailed For Junior Programme

TENNIS by Jackie Thorley

BASFORD Tennis Club's drive to get more juniors competing has put them at the top of a county league table. A survey by Tennis Staffordshire reveals Basford has left the big guns in the south of the county in its wake by chalking up top marks for encouraging young players to take part in official competitions. The findings show the North Staffordshire outfit has 83 juniors in its ranks who regularly compete, compared with fewer children at larger clubs such as Stourbridge, Brierley Hill, Tipton and Wolverhampton.

Keith Carder, pictured, the development manager for Staffordshire and Shropshire, believes credit should go to the Basford coach Mike Armstrong and his coaching team. Carder said: "Mike is doing a really fantastic job. He has expanded his coaching programme massively and is getting kids playing in matches.

"The club is getting lots of local schools involved and deserve a pat on the back.

"It's great a club the size of Basford can be at the top of the league and it shows how much work is being done there."

Nationally, the LTA is on a mission to increase the amount of youngsters who compete in six or more events each season. In under two years, the total number across Staffordshire has risen from less than 200 to more than 550.

Carder said: "It's definitely a move in the right direction. We've achieved what we set out to do, but, of course, there's room for further improvement."

Armstrong puts Basford's success down to the upsurge in interest from local schools and youngsters in the community.

Funding from Tennis Staffordshire and the council's School Sport Partnership scheme has helped pay for free coaching and the club has since delivered follow-up weekly sessions for children who want to continue playing tennis.

Carder said: "All this has come from doing the school links and parks scheme really well.

"We have a good club programme and we'll soon be looking to encourage the performance players to compete around North Staffordshire and then travel within a wider area for matches."

Sentinel, 20 October 2009
Courtesy of The Sentinel News & Media

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