Spalding Tennis Club boosted by Emma Raducanu's success at the US Open
Youngsters have been inspired by tennis star Emma Raducanu’s success at the US Open.
The 18-year-old defied the nation’s expectations to win her first Grand Slam title earlier this month, and junior members at Spalding Tennis Club have responded by taking to the court themselves.
Ellie Blackbourn, junior coach at the club, is delighted at the impact her victory has had - and says the sport has been growing in popularity in recent months.
“Since lockdown restrictions eased over the past year, we’ve found there has been such an increase in junior players wanting to get involved,” she told the Lincolnshire Free Press.
“The popular age was from about ten and upwards before, but over the last two or three months we’ve got to a point where 30% of our players are under seven.
“Emma Raducanu started tennis at age five, so I think it’s really shown that the earlier you start the better.”
Spalding’s club has around 70 junior members at the moment, and Ellie says the recent US Open and Wimbledon tournaments have played a big part in boosting those numbers along with Raducanu’s win.
“It’s been really good to have someone young like that as an inspiration,” she said.
“We’ve had a noticeable increase in the number of people enquiring about junior coaching and coming along to try it out.”
She also thinks that victories like this are important in inspiring a new generation of female players, with Raducanu now the top-ranked British professional.
“Going back a few years, we had a higher ratio of boys to girls,” she said.
“What I’ve noticed is that now, we’ve got an almost even split. So I think just having more girls at the club means that when people come to try out and see that, it encourages them to come in.
“It can be quite intimidating to come into a place where there are a lot of older people that have played a lot longer. So it’s definitely helped out.”
Despite the influx in junior memberships, Ellie and the club are not resting on their laurels.
“We have discount membership prices this year because of the loss of Covid-19 numbers, but we’ve actually got the highest number of members we’ve ever had at the moment,” she said.
“We’re always looking for more people to come along. Almost every single week we’ve had at least one new junior coming to try it out, and they all keep coming along.
“We’ve actually added extra sessions during the week just because these kids are so enthusiastic.
“It’s put an exciting spin on it.”
She says that to sort out a membership, interested players can find membership forms online at https://clubspark.lta.org.uk/SpaldingTownTennisClub
As well as taking part in coaching sessions, members are also able to book a court and play amongst themselves - which Ellie says is a popular option.
“I think that’s been a big difference,” she said.
“We’ve had so many families booking a court and coming down to play together, which has been really nice.”