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LTA expands children's participation programme

A grassroots tennis initiative that offers young children a free six-week course and tennis racket has been expanded to accommodate 20,000 youngsters.

The Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA) Tennis for Kids programme was enjoyed by 13,000 children aged 5-8 in 2016.

An extra 7,000 will be able to take part due to demand for the scheme which was launched to capitalise on Great Britain’s Davis Cup win in 2015.

The victory was the start of a golden 12 months for British tennis. Andy Murray won Wimbledon, gold at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and was subsequently named as World No. 1.

His brother Jamie reached the pinnacle of the doubles game as World No. 1, while fellow Scot Gordon Reid won the Paralympic gold last autumn.

Britain’s women’s No. 1 Johanna Konta, who reached her first Grand Slam semi-final during the 2016 Australian Open, has backed the programme’s second year and said it was "great for getting children involved in tennis and generally active.”

Last year, LTA director of participation Alastair Marks told Sports Management that the scheme was part of a "participation first” philosophy devised by chief executive Michael Downey, who is due to leave the governing body after Wimbledon 2017.