When it comes to tennis, Red Bay Primary’s Year 6 pupils know their serve and volley better than most of their peers.
Tennis lessons have been held weekly at the government school this term and the coaching has been a big hit.
Teaching at the school, during physical education lessons, are pros Noel Watkins and Aine Leonard, of Cayman Tennis Academy.
“This is a super bunch of kids and they’re picking up the basics really quickly,” said Leonard, one of Ireland’s top female players. “There’s lots of potential here.”
Shannel Ebanks, 10, said, “This is the first time we’ve ever played. We’re having fun, we’re enjoying it. There’s lots of running around. I was surprised, but hitting the ball isn’t difficult.”
KPMG is the sponsor for this Red Bay program, which is administered by the Tennis Federation of the Cayman Islands.
Tennis federation chief Eliza Harford said, “There are lots of children whose favorite lesson is sport, so we’re delighted to be able to add to the frequency and variety of what’s on offer. And we’re grateful to KPMG for making this possible.”
In addition to those kids attending KPMG coaching at the school site, there are currently 10 children from Red Bay Primary and Savannah Primary taking lessons after school at the Tennis Club in South Sound.
“These children are paying a nominal fee as part of a new pilot program, with the club and the TFCI is picking up the difference,” said Harford.
“Club manager Rob Seward loves these kids, he thinks they are terrific, and it looks like we’re going to invite them all to stay on for another term.”
The long-term aim of the pilot program, Harford said, is to get a strong contingent of government-school children playing tennis and taking lessons at the Cayman Islands Tennis Club.
Leonard teaches kids as young as 3 years old and has implemented video analysis so that players can gain a deeper understanding of technique and she also runs cardio-tennis classes.
In Ireland, she was the program director of Templeogue Tennis Club in Dublin, one of the country’s leading clubs. She was also the program director of Mullingar Tennis Club and Tennis 4 Kids.
“The facilities at CITC are so good, as well as being relatively inexpensive and easily accessible,” she said. “We are excited about this new program. We’re hoping it’s going to lead to a new generation of Caymanian kids making their mark in local and regional tennis.”