The Tennis Foundation say record numbers of people took part in its disability programme throughout 2018.
The year just ended saw a total of 12,689 disabled people participate in the programme on a monthly basis, making it one of the biggest disability-specific sports schemes in the UK.
This represents a 66% increase on 2017 and a four-fold increase since the programme launched in 2013. More than 500 venues across the country have joined the programme and offer disability tennis sessions to their local community.
Activity delivered under the disability tennis programme enables people with a disability or long-term health condition to pick up a racket and play. Almost 60% of monthly participants are players with a learning disability, with the remainder including wheelchair tennis players, blind or visually impaired players and deaf or hearing impaired players. In addition, a specific focus this year was put on tennis sessions for people with a mental health problem with these now accounting for nine per cent of monthly participants in the programme.
Jill Osleger, National Disability Development Manager for the Tennis Foundation, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the impact our work in driving disability tennis is having.
“We have a partnership approach to our work that encompasses many organisations and individuals, without whom we would not have had the success we have. I’d like to thank everyone who has played a role in helping engage so many disabled people in tennis.”
The Tennis Foundation’s programme of activity is supported by funding from Sport England, and its Director of Community Sport, Mike Diaper, said: “We know that disabled people are less active than non-disabled people, this is not good enough and is something we are addressing through our ‘Towards an Active Nation’ strategy.
The Foundation announced recently that it will be integrating its activities and staff into the Lawn Tennis Association in a move which it believes will open up tennis and develop inclusion across the sport.
Osleger added: “We are looking forward to continuing the momentum and ensuring Great Britain retains its reputation as one of the leading nations in the world for disability tennis.”