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Middlesex - a very inclusive county with five 2019 awards having a disability tennis related theme.

April 3, 2020

Middlesex Tennis prides itself on the work that takes place on disability and inclusive tennis in the County. This was reflected in the 2019 Awards when 5 of the awards on offer had a disability tennis related theme.

The 2019 Player of the Year went to Andy Lapthorne. Andy had a stand out year in 2019 with the highlights being winning the quad wheelchair tennis event at the US Open and making the final at the inaugural quad singles event at Wimbledon. On the doubles court he won both the Wimbledon and US Open titles. These results contributed to him topping the ITF quad ranking in January 2020.

The recipient of the Middlesex LTA Disability Award for 2019 received many nominations from players and parents who were extremely grateful and supportive of pleasure that tennis brings to their children. Get Set 4 Tennis have over 800 children on their programme which operates before and after school and at the weekend. The club has activity at several different SEN schools including nurseries and follow-on schools and are constantly adding more schools.

Some quotes from the teachers are;

“Children are so excited to go to tennis”.
“Children are so proud of themselves after tennis lessons, they have a sense of achievement which leads to a really happy mood in class afterwards.”
“The coaches are so supportive, the children come back to class so positive and enthused.”
“Pupils who doesn’t normally join in PE always join in with tennis”
and one of the many quotes from a parent is;
“I have seen the work they do with disabled children and it is amazing.  Everyone is included no matter what age or ability and all are made to feel valued and welcome”.  

The programme has gone from strength to strength in 2019 thanks to the dedication and commitment of the lead coaches Lisa & Jonathan Wildman.

This annual County Closed Championships is a deserved winner of the Middlesex LTA Competition Award due to the new and fresh approach that it adopted in 2019. As part of this event Middlesex and Surrey worked in partnership to offer inclusive competition to players with learning disability, visual impairment, and Wheelchair tennis, with 3 different venues being used across the 2 counties.  These disability elements were introduced and co-ordinated by Mark Bullock from Middlesex and Tim Sagar from Surrey who made the first year of this joint venture a great success and something that is sure to be repeated in future years.

The Volunteer of the Year Award went to someone who has initiated and established a successful disability tennis programme at her club, and in partnership with Metro Blind Sports developed an outreach programme run by volunteers for totally blind players at Islington Tennis Centre. She has a regular flow of players with Down's syndrome attend her DSActive tennis sessions at Highgate Tennis Club and heads up a team of adult & young leaders to support the delivery of a visually impaired session at Islington Tennis Centre.  

The Middlesex Tennis Young Person of the Year is a shining example of the great work that our Volunteer of the Year award winner is doing in developing young people. Tom Roberts is a volunteer at the regular visually impaired tennis sessions established by Linda Almond at Islington Tennis Centre. Our winner started helping with this session in 2017 as part of his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award and in 2019 he did his Silver Duke of Edinburgh award which this volunteering formed part of. As an experienced volunteer he is now able to guide partially sighted players on his own from the nearby tube station, he is also a role model for other young people displaying excellent skills in how to guide and communicate with blind players.

One of the blind players explains what it means to have volunteers like our Young Volunteer of the Year helping:

“I would like to thank you and the wonderful team of volunteers from the bottom of my heart. It is amazing to see how selfless you all are and what an immaculate job you always do! I know that words cannot do enough to express my gratitude and I hope that you will be able to sense how much affection I feel towards all of you for making our lives more enjoyable and for giving us a chance to play sports without any worries. A million thank yous once again”.

Tom is a real trailblazer. He has encouraged new students to help and there have been 31 new young volunteers since he started. He deserves special recognition achievements and is a very worthy recipient of the award.

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