British tennis stars Ryan Peniston and Jodie Burrage hope a boom in British tennis inspires a new generation to play tennis following a hugely successful ‘Middle Saturday Opened Up’ in Wimbledon Park.
Held just a stones’ throw from the All England Club, ‘Middle Saturday Opened Up’ saw dozens of children take part in free sessions encouraging them to get on court.
The event took place on the middle Saturday of The Championships, returning for a third year since the first edition in 2019, having previously taken place on the middle Sunday.
The event brought communities across Merton and Wandsworth together and supported the LTA’s vision of ‘tennis opened up’, demonstrating the vital role park courts play as community assets in providing accessible opportunities to play.
Participants were treated to a variety of free sessions and activities, as well as the chance to hit with the likes of Peniston and Burrage.
Peniston and Burrage were among 17 players who competed in the main draw at Wimbledon this year, with ten reaching the second round – the most since 1984.
And, having revelled in maiden win at the All England Club, Peniston now wants to see a new generation picking up the sport.
He said: “It’s brilliant for the kids to get involved and grow the love of the sport. It’s amazing and especially on a beautiful day in the summer like this.
“I think it’s really important to take advantage. We have our biggest tournaments at this time of the year in Britain and for kids to come and watch, and be a part of it, I think it’s great for them.
“When I was younger I used to play on courts really similar to these and used to love coming to events like this and having fun. That’s where it stems, the love for tennis.”
Burrage added: “The LTA have some great schemes such as the LTA Youth programme. They’re getting a lot more kids involved throughout the year and it’s just about getting more kids involved, and playing as much as possible.
“It’s definitely the time to get kids involved in it, get them trying to see what’s happening and get them inspired.
“I’ve been inspired this week by how well people are doing so hopefully it can translate to these guys as well, and there’s a lot of kids here – it’s great to see.”
Also in attendance was Lily Miyazaki, who made her Wimbledon debut this year, and Eden Silva, who played in the Ladies’ Doubles alongside Burrage.
And both echoed the sentiments of Burrage and Peniston, highlighting just how important it is for kids to try the sport.
“I think it’s great to get so many kids involved in tennis, especially during the Wimbledon period when everybody enjoys this time of year. Seeing a lot of the Brits doing great at Wimbledon, it’s really inspiring for the younger generation,” said Silva
“I think it’s great to see a lot of the Brits that you follow throughout the year and then seeing them at a stage like Wimbledon and doing well. I think everyone can relate to those players and I hope that a lot of kids get involved.”
Miyazaki added: “Events like this inspire little kids and hopefully get more younger generations picking up the sport. Wimbledon is a massive event and it’s an inspiration for anyone, but especially for kids. Growing up, every year The Championships really inspired me.
“Every time I got to play at something like this as a kid, it was just really inspiring and a lot of fun, especially if there are older players there. It really wants to make you be like them.”
For the latest action on the British summer grass court season, check out the LTA Website