Every school is well served to learn to smash and volley

There are some well-kept secrets in the Cayman Islands – and one of them is that tennis is now taught in every government primary school.  

The Walkers-sponsored schools programme was started three years ago by the Tennis Federation of the Cayman Islands.  

It organises and pays for tennis pros to teach basic tennis skills and activities in physical education lessons at government primary schools.  

A key concept is that PE teachers learn teaching techniques from the pros and then use those skills to coach children throughout the school.  

Every school is provided with 20 racquets, mini-tennis nets and balls. Teaching time from the pros varies from school to school, but most are getting at least an hour a week.  

The programme has gone from strength to strength in the past 12 months, notes TFCI president Jeremy Superfine.  

“We’ve had great interest from all the primary schools in continuing their tennis lessons for the school year, and have had very positive feedback from the principals and the tennis pros.” 

The Lighthouse School has been added to the list of participants this year.  

Noel Watkins of Cayman Tennis Academy was approached by the school, and it subsequently joined the ranks.  

Watkins makes weekly coaching visits. Schools on the Sister Islands are also part of the programme. At all but Savannah primary, the tennis pro visits the school and teaches the classes using the mini nets on whatever all-purpose surface the school may have.  

Savannah students take lessons at the tennis club in South Sound, where they learn from pros Rob Seward and Adam Bayley. The pros from The Courts at the Ritz-Carlton go to John A. Cumber primary in West Bay, where this year they have been focusing on one year group.  

All four classes in the year have tennis lessons every other week, with an Olympic fun session at the end of each term.  

“The children have responded very positively to tennis,” said Superfine, “particularly in East End and North Side, where coach Noel Watkins’ enthusiasm and commitment has led to holiday camps and extra coaching for students who show a natural talent and interest in the game.”  

If further sponsorship money can be found, the TFCI hopes to look at the possibility of inter-school tournaments in 2013-14, stated Superfine.  

In addition to the Walkers schools programme, the TFCI also runs year-round junior tennis tournaments, sponsored by PwC, and a free tennis coaching programme – known as Tennis 10s – for children aged 10 and under, sponsored by Cayman National.  

Any junior may use for free the mini tennis courts at the TFCI’s Paul Howard Junior Community Tennis centre on West Bay Road. More information on junior tennis is available from any local pro.  

It organises and pays for tennis pros to teach basic tennis skills and activities in physical education lessons at government primary schools.  

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John A. Cumber kids love their tennis lessons. – PHOTO: SUBMITTED
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