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Friday 11 April 2014

Wigan's Spaniards add tennis strings to their bow

Jordi Gomez showed the Deanery High School girls he was a dab hand at tennis

Despite relegation from the Barclays Premier League at the end of last season Wigan Athletic are fighting hard to regain their top-flight status, while defending the FA Cup they won against Manchester City in May.

Uwe Rosler's team are in the play-off positions in the Championship and have already booked a trip to Wembley on Saturday, where they play Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final.

One of the key performers in their cup run has been Jordi Gomez, who has scored twice in the competition, including during the shock 2-1 win away to Manchester City in the quarter-finals.

The Spanish midfielder showed he is a man of many talents recently, when he and compatriot Ivan Ramis picked up a tennis racket to help Wigan Athletic Community Trust launch a new programme to get more young people in the area playing tennis.

"Through working with Wigan Athletic, we can demonstrate that tennis is fun"
David Parry, LTA

Gomez and Ramis joined 20 girls from the Deanery High School at a special coaching session at the Robin Park Indoor arena to celebrate the introduction of tennis into the Trust's Premier League 4 Sport scheme.

"I had a lot of fun and maybe I am in the wrong profession, I should be a tennis player," Gomez said. "It was a great afternoon and good to help show the girls from the high school how much fun you can have playing tennis and trying out a new sport.

"It's always important to get everybody involved and I was very impressed with how the session went."

PL4Sport uses the power of the football club brand to engage and encourage children to participate in other sports and recently received a boost in the form of a new £16.8m partnership between the Premier League and Sport England. This has led to tennis being one of four new sports (the others are golf, boxing and athletics) added to the eight Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth sports that clubs can offer through PL4Sport.

To encourage more youngsters to play tennis in Wigan, the Trust is running two sessions a week for 12-19-year-olds. The coaching is designed to use the power of Wigan Athletic in the community to give participants who would not otherwise be interested in tennis a taste of the sport before helping to direct them to established tennis clubs should they wish to play more. It is a sport that 16 clubs running the PL4Sport scheme are offering (see below) and is supported by the tennis authorities.

"British Tennis is keen to use a variety of community partners to support getting more people playing tennis more often," David Parry, the Development Officer for the North West for the Lawn Tennis Association, said. "Wigan Athletic undoubtedly has a strong community programme which engages with a whole variety of groups.

"Through working with Wigan Athletic, we can demonstrate that tennis is fun and an enjoyable sport for all ages and abilities. We look forward to continuing to work with them and support the great work they do in the local area."

Tennis is one of six sports offered by the Trust as part of its PL4Sport project.

"It was great of Jordi and Ivan to take time to come to the tennis launch," project co-ordinator Zac Taylor said. "Our Premier League 4 Sport programme has proved to be really successful in getting more young people playing basketball, athletic, table tennis, volleyball and badminton and hopefully we can have the same impact with tennis."

Clubs offering tennis through Premier League 4 Sport

Aston Villa Portsmouth
Chelsea Queens Park Rangers
Derby County Sheffield Wednesday
Fulham Southampton
Leeds United Stoke City
Man City Swansea City
Newcastle United Tottenham Hotspur
Nottingham Forest Wigan Athletic

Key Points

  • Wigan Athletic add tennis to a raft of sports available under Premier League 4 Sport scheme
  • Sessions to encourage 11-19-year-olds to try sport are put in place
  • Wigan first-team stars Jordi Gomez and Ivan Ramis help launch of sport

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