Commitment to grass-roots tennis will be more important than ever after the long-awaited Wimbledon triumph by British No.1 Andy Murray. The Charity, “Give It Your Max” has helped thousands of children to pick up a tennis racket and get involved for free.

The full benefit of the charity’s contribution has been realised in locations across the country, where thousands of children have been introduced to tennis since Give It Your Max was founded in 2004. Give It Your Max, with the help of Statoil’s sponsorship through its Heroes of Tomorrow initiative, has funded coaching sessions to allow free tennis to children in the state sector between the ages of 5-10 years old.

Virginia Wade OBE, former Wimbledon ladies singles champion and ‘Give It Your Max’ Patron:

“Getting more racquets into the hands of young children at an early age and giving them the opportunity to have coaching in a fun environment can only be a good thing for the game. Charities like GIYM do find young talented players who would otherwise not have had the opportunity to pick up a tennis racquet.  Any one of these children might be future tennis champions.”

Watch the GIYM Documentary featuring their great work here:

Mike Stotesbury, Founder of GIYM:

“Further benefit has been seen in areas where there is a youth gang culture where ‘Give It Your Max’ has given children a practical alternative and shown a new and positive approach to life.  In addition to the social and educational benefits ‘Give It Your Max’ has started to impact on youth tennis.  Eight year old Rachel Barnett from Reading, who was introduced to the game by ‘Give It Your Max’, is now considered to be one of the best in the country in her age group and there are a number of players with excellent potential in all the Centres.”

The charity is ever expanding, having just started working at a new site in Aberdeen and looking to rollout its winning formula across the country. The funding that Give It Your Max provides does not only allow more children to play tennis, it ensures that the quality of coaching afforded to them is as high as possible by paying for more coaches to go into each school.

Simon Grieve, Head Tennis Coach at Canterbury Indoor Tennis Centre:

“We used to get funding from the council who then pulled our funding as did the LTA. The club supported us a little but we only had a small pocket of money. Give It Your Max has allowed us to put together a really professional programme that allows coaches to go in and provide year on year coaching, so there is a continual flow of opportunities for children.

Stuart Maidment, Head Coach at Lordswood School, Edgbaston:

We have seen our numbers grow massively. The club has been going for 2 years and that’s when GIYM started to contribute towards our junior tennis programme. We now see around 150 kids a week on a regular basis. We also see thousands of kids in schools during term time so we are introducing thousands and thousands of kids to tennis all the time. GIYM has really helped us to go into the schools and really try and initiate people interest in tennis. Without their involvement and contribution, financially, it would have been quite hard for us to do that and therefore we wouldn’t have had as many children take up the sport over the last 2 years as we have had”.

Whilst the mission statement of Give It Your Max is more focused on providing coaching to as many people as it can, the hope is that some of the children that have been introduced to tennis by the charity can kick on and use this as a platform to build a tennis career. In Peckham Mukhtar Andu, aged 9 is taking advantage of the free coaching he received at Bradfield Youth Centre and is on course to be number one in the country at u9 level at the end of the year.

Umran Ali, Head Coach at Burgess Park, Peckham:

Our role with GIYM is to try and provide coaching for a lot of young players in the local community. In this area we have got a lot of people who haven’t got enough resources financially to be able to play tennis. GIYM has enabled us to give opportunities to people like that who would not otherwise have been able to play tennis. As a result we have been able to bring children back to Burgess Park where we a run a programme. Mukhtar Andu is a good example and is on course to end the year as the number one 9 and under in the country. He is a direct result of the opportunities that GIYM have given to the community”.

Founded by All England Club member Michael Stotesbury in memory of his son Max, whose passion for tennis led to him assisting head coach Dan Bloxham with the Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative, Give It Your Max aims to fund tennis coaches to introduce and teach tennis to young children in the state sector.

The benefit of schemes like the ones implemented by Give It Your Max will only continue to flourish with the success of Andy Murray, Heather Watson and Laura Robson putting tennis in the spotlight again. Highlighting the great work that is already being done for grassroots tennis in the country is pivotal in order to encourage more similar schemes and ensure that we don’t have to wait another 77 years until the next Wimbledon champion.

The funding from Statoil will also offer some of Give It Your Max’s pupils the chance to participate in a coaching clinic with Heather Watson at the Statoil Masters Tennis Tournament at the Royal Albert Hall in December.


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