Posted 09 Jun 2023

I woke up this morning knowing that today would see us deliver our last London tennis road show, as always, I was very excited to visit yet another school and introduce tennis to nearly 200 girls, but I must admit, there was a slight feeling of sadness that the weeklong tennis adventure was over. As soon as I arrived at the school, the sadness had left me, the excitement was building up, and I was looking forward to another great day of tennis, and of course meeting a new coach. 

A massive thank you must go out to Charli Burness who worked through all the management of this event with me, in association with Access Sport who supported the reach out to the schools in London through their network. Without the support of the WTA (The Women’s World Tennis Governing Body), and Morgan Stanley, this large tennis inclusion programme would simply not have happened.

The coach today was James Zaman, the week had delivered a group of coaches who were simply outstanding, I hoped the last day would carry on this trend. I had absolutely nothing to worry about, James is an incredible personality, with a wonderful coaching character. He instantly connected with all the girls from each group, with his easy going, but dynamic nature. I liked the way he used the varying tones of voice through his delivery, ensuring the girls were always hanging onto every word he spoke. 

I really liked his coaching style, he has perfected the art of balancing the delivery of the session, mixing in tennis specific and nonspecific drills. A great warm up, eye hand co-ordination, a phase of fitness work, and of course the all-important racket work. The sessions all had a visit from the school dog, who added an extra dimension to the sessions, it was very clear that all the girls were very found of him. I had another opportunity to share my lunch with another coach, it was a great experience, there was a good connection with James, and the conversation flowed very easily, mostly about tennis, but also life in general and other sports and subjects. Before we knew it, the time had arrived for us to start the next session in the glorious sun.

It was a long day, but a day that had witnessed smiles, laughter, and fun through the game of tennis. This is a relationship that will continue, the Elena Baltacha Foundation has already started conversation with Charli, regarding a legacy programme, ensuring that the affect we had during this incredible day, will lead on to many more girls playing tennis over the coming years.>

By Nino Severino

by Wendy Henderson