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Willis: I'm sure this will get more kids playing tennis

11 Jul 2016
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Wimbledon sensation Marcus Willis sees how Premier League, clubs and British Tennis helping grow sport

Marcus Willis has had an incredible few weeks. The British tennis player qualified for the main draw at Wimbledon for the first time and then became the lowest-ranked qualifier to reach the second round at a Grand Slam since 1988.

This set up a dream encounter with Roger Federer on Centre Court, which defeat did little to spoil.

Willis was one of the guests at last week's Premier League 4 Sport National Tennis Competition at the National Tennis Centre, in Roehampton, which featured 19 teams from football clubs around the country. The 25-year-old saw how the Premier League, together with British Tennis, is helping a new generation of young people into the sport.

He told premierleague.com why programmes like PL4Sport are so important for tennis, as well as the 11 other Olympic sports it promotes.

"I loved racket sports as a kid. I used to hit a ball for hours on end against my neighbour's wall, pretending I was playing Pete Sampras or Goran Ivanisevic. 

"I was lucky, my school was sporty and I always had access to sport but there was never anything like this programme for others who weren't sporty. I am glad this is happening now.

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Marcus Willis was happy to join in with PL4Sport participants at Roehampton

 

"It gets kids into tennis - as well as the 11 other sports - they normally wouldn't have access to. If more kids participate and one finds a sport to love and then pursues it, that's a success.

"We want people realising there is more than the two weeks at Wimbledon. Go and hit a ball against a wall, go play touchtennis. There are things you can do all year round in every part of the country, and this is great for the realisation that actually this is a year-long sport.

"They don't have to be world champions. When I walk past a park I just want to see people playing tennis, not empty tennis courts. I want tennis to be a popular sport and things like this help.

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Teams from 19 Premier League and Football League clubs took part in the event, which was won by Stoke City

"Seeing young people play in events like the National Tennis Competition is what it is all about. They are absolutely loving it and because of this programme, they are now playing.

"It gets kids exercising, it gets kids enjoying tennis and other sports, and the enjoyment factor is the main reason I play.

"Sport gets meeting new people and having different experiences, and that's priceless. You learn about the world, you learn about people and you meet friends that you can have for life.

"This scheme is great fun. I'm sure this will go through the roof and get more kids playing tennis. That's what we want: a tennis nation."

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