Local school children got a taste of tennis glory on Friday (29 January) playing at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on the same courts where Belgium’s Joachim Gerard was crowned men’s NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters in December.

Primary school children from thirteen local mainstream and special schools in Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, between the ages of seven to eleven with a range of conditions including autism, mild and severe learning difficulties and physical impairments (including visual and hearing) attended the inclusive disability tennis festival at the former London 2012 venue.

The festival, held in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is in its second year and offered local children the chance to play tennis on the only purpose built London 2012 Paralympic venue with Lawn Tennis Association accredited coaches. Each of the indoor courts catered to a different tennis activity and the four 25 minute rotating sessions were easily adapted to suit the needs of the individual group.

“The festival is a nod towards the sporting legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games” said Jack Pringle, Sports Development Officer at Lee Valley Regional Park Authority. Friday’s unforgettable event saw 89 young people pick up a racquet at the state of the art facility to play fun tennis-themed games and improve fitness, social skills, mobility and coordination. The kids all fully embraced the activities on offer and really engaged with the coaches. The turnout was fantastic and events like these are a vital part of getting more children involved in sport, especially in the run up to Rio 2016.”

The disability tennis festival is run in partnership with the Tennis Foundation, Britain’s leading tennis charity with additional support from the Lee Valley Community Access Fund. The fund was created to allow and encourage the local community, including special needs and youth groups to access sports, outdoor learning, attractions and open space provision that otherwise might not be possible. This collective initiative aims to make a difference to the lives of people across the region and give them a chance to take advantage of the world-class venues and activities that can be found at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and in the wider Lee Valley Regional Park.

Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre offers a range of sessions tailored for people with a disability. Weekly wheelchair and learning disability tennis sessions, in addition to monthly visually impaired camps provide opportunities for all regardless of age or ability level. Visit www.visitleevalley.org.uk/hockeytennis for more information.