Children at St Bernadette’s Catholic Primary School in Nunthorpe got the chance to see one of sport’s most coveted prizes when Emma Raducanu’s US Open trophy came into their classrooms.
The LTA brought the stunning silverware as part of a UK tour to celebrate the teenager’s sensational success at Flushing Meadows last September.
Raducanu’s victory united the nation and now the LTA is tapping into the enthusiasm generated by a remarkable sporting moment to spread the message of the game around the country.
St Bernadette’s was chosen as one of the schools signed up to the LTA Youth Schools initiative, of which Emma is an ambassador.
A special video from Raducanu was played to the students, who were also given a tennis coaching session delivered by an LTA youth coach.
Sarah Smith, St Bernadette’s PE lead, said: “We’ve been having some wonderful tennis lessons for our Year 3 and Year 4 pupils from the LTA and they asked if we’d like to have the trophy come into school.
“Tennis fits perfectly into the school’s vision, ACE – Aspire, Courage and Excellence. When we looked at Emma and her vision and dreams, that’s what we want for our children here at St Bernadette’s as well.
“When the children saw the gentleman with the white gloves bringing in the trophy there were gasps. They thought it was amazing.”
Sam Foakes, the LTA’s interim head of region, north, said the organisation is trying to make tennis more accessible for children from all kinds of backgrounds.
“We’re looking to roll out the LTA’s Youth Schools programme in as many schools across the north as possible,” he said.
“It’s really important to bring on a new generation of players and we want as many people as possible to pick up a racket and be inspired by Emma’s amazing success.
“The Youth Schools offer is helping to reach into communities where there may not be the facilities or equipment. We want to open up the sport and make it more inclusive.”
Clare Harding, NPCAT’s head of sport and primary strategic lead for PE, said sport plays a central role in the trust’s mission.
“NPCAT Sport is dedicated to providing world-class physical education, sport and physical activities that cater for all regardless of background, ability or personal circumstances,” she said.
“Our mission is to positively impact the lives of all pupils and I can’t think of a better way than to be inspired by Emma Raducanu’s stunning victory at the US Open.
“As part of a tour around Britain, the children at St Bernadette’s are being given the chance to get close to this iconic trophy, as well as getting outside for a training session with an LTA youth coach.
“Emma is such a positive sporting role model and shows our children what can be achieved if you are determined and dedicated enough.”
The Youth Schools programme aims to help more children aged four-to-18 become more active by enjoying tennis, offering free teacher training and content.
“Emma’s achievement in New York last September inspired so many people from all parts of our community and we are delighted to take her trophy to young people around the country,” said LTA CEO, Scott Lloyd.
“Our vision is to open tennis up – and by sending the trophy to schools across Britain, we hope more children will pick up a racket and try our sport for the first time.”
The tour began in London on Monday and has also visited Cambridge, Bristol, Pontypridd, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds, Middlesbrough and Edinburgh.
Raducanu said: “I’m really excited to be teaming up with the LTA to take my US Open trophy on a tour of the country.”
“All the schools we are taking the trophy to have played tennis as part of the LTA Youth Schools programme and my hope is that the trophy will inspire them to continue their tennis journey both inside and outside of school.
(Radio interview at 39 minutes, available until Friday 10 June 2022)