Liverpool Tennis Centre has done the double and scooped two top gongs at an industry award ceremony.
The venue took gold for ‘Disability Tennis Programme of the Year’ and their head coach, Andy McGarry, took the title of ‘Lancashire Tennis Coach of the Year’ at the Lancashire in the 2016 British Tennis Awards, beating off competition from across the region.
Over the past twelve months the scheme has significantly increased the number of opportunities available for people with disabilities to enjoy tennis. This has included introducing new weekly wheelchair tennis and visually impaired sessions, supported by the Tennis Foundation, with players attending regularly from across Merseyside. The centre also runs a Downs Syndrome mini tennis activities each week as well as delivering taster sessions for local special schools.
In August the venue hosted the first ever Liverpool Wheelchair Tennis Tournament with 20 players competing from across the UK.
Added to this, as part of a commitment to the Active Me programme (which aims to encourage people to take up exercise) tennis has been delivered in every Lifestyles centre giving many disabled adults the chance to enjoy tennis for the first time.
George Ferguson, who takes part in the visually impaired tennis sessions, said: “‘I was a newcomer to tennis when I first tried it at the Liverpool Tennis Centre back in October. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first arrived, as I had never tried tennis before and thought it would be too difficult due to having a visual impairment. However, the coach who was assigned to deliver the visually impaired tennis sessions was fantastic with the group. He made us feel very welcome and comfortable during the session, which in turn helped us enjoy the session even more than we thought we would.
“Following a successful and enjoyable first attempt at tennis, I have been going every week since. It is a great feeling being able to play tennis, something I thought I would never do. I would never even have tried playing the game at any point if it was not for these sessions being hosted in Liverpool.”
The double celebration continued as Andy McGarry, was named Lancashire Tennis Coach of the Year. The accolade recognised Andy’s success in increasing the number of children playing tennis, which has grown from 38 to more than 400 in just 18 months. He is also committed to developing a new team of coaches through a Tennis Leaders programme, with the aim to inspire the future generations of tennis players.
Councillor Tim Moore, Mayoral Lead for Sport, said: “This is fantastic news for Liverpool Tennis Centre and I’m delighted that their hard work and dedication to getting people involved in tennis, regardless of age or ability, has been recognised across the region.
“The programme and the experienced team of coaches, give people the opportunity and confidence to try something new, which not only has physical benefits, but also introduces a social element – being part of an activity and making new friends can do wonders for a person’s health and wellbeing.
“I’d like to congratulate everyone involved and l am sure the programme will continue to go from strength to strength.”
Liverpool Tennis Centre and Andy McGarry now progress to the regional section of the Aegon British Tennis Awards where they will compete against other winners from the North of England in the New Year.