'PL Tennis has inspired me to join a club'

20 Jul 2017
Maisie Smith, PL Tennis, Chelsea Foundation

Year 9 student Maisie explains how she has benefited from the Chelsea Foundation's table tennis and tennis programmes

A couple of years ago, Maisie had to stop playing table tennis with the Chelsea Foundation because of injury.

When she returned to fitness, Maisie, who is in Year 9, was looking for another sport to play with Chelsea and in September she joined the Premier League Tennis programme. 

"Chelsea were offering the tennis club after school," she says.

"As I'm trying to complete my PiXL Edge award – where you have to complete different tasks within the community such as organisation and leadership – I thought tennis sounded good fun.

"I've got a few friends who play and I thought it might be worth giving it a go."

Clubs' outreach helps to increase participation in tennis

Chelsea offer their programmes as part of the Premier League 4 Sport initiative, which uses the power of football clubs to inspire young people to get involved in 12 different sports.

"They don't discriminate or say 'you can't play tennis, you're not good enough'," says Maisie. "That's why I've enjoyed it so much, there's no pressure.

"It's helped my table tennis, and my table tennis has helped my tennis. They work together and I'm improving in both."

After 10 months of coaching, Maisie was chosen to represent Chelsea in last Thursday's PL Tennis National Tournament, held at the home of British Tennis in Roehampton, London.

"Having not played before, and then being brought into competitions like this, it's quite nerve-wracking but it's definitely made me more confident," she says.

"I feel I can pick up something new and give it a go; that it doesn't matter what level you are, you can still pick up a racket and give it a try.

"If you had asked me in September whether I would be here I would have said definitely not.

Maisie, PL Tennis, Chelsea Foundation
Maisie, left, helped her Chelsea team reach the quarter-finals of the National PL Tennis Tournament

"It's amazing seeing where professionals train. I haven't played outside of the Chelsea sessions yet. But after this tournament, I've really enjoyed it, I'm inspired, so I probably will start going to an out-of-school club, maybe speak to a coach.

"Without this programme I wouldn't really be playing tennis. I didn't think it would be my thing but I'll definitely carry on when I get home."

After the competition at the National Tennis Centre, the players were given another treat, a visit to Wimbledon to watch some top-class tennis. For Maisie, it represents a valuable lesson.

"If you put that extra hard work in, you get experiences like this," she says. "I think part of this as well is through me working hard in school and in all my lessons.

"To go to Wimbledon is amazing, and all my family are very jealous. I don't think it's something we'd do.

"The programme is very inspiring. It gives people a chance to experience things they wouldn't necessarily experience with their family and outside school.

"It's a humbling thing and I'm very grateful for it. I'm very proud to be involved."

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