Participation day gathers momentum

Monday, February 22, 2010, 14:13

In sport playing to win is a priority to almost one and all. Yet, tough competition, especially in individual sports like tennis, can put-off youngsters from enjoying and benefit from the real values of such a sport. Enjoying experience and enthusiasm for the game, brother and sister Claire Arrigo and Christopher Gatt, both former National Tennis Team players, took up the initiative and set-up St. Andrews Tennis School at the Pembroke Rackets Tennis Club (PRTC).

A happy cluster of youngsters with Claire u Christopher and some parents at the Participation Day held in February

A happy cluster of youngsters with Claire u Christopher and some parents at the Participation Day held in February

The school’s goal is firstly to introduce tennis to a wider audience and secondly to scout for young talent and train these kids to represent Malta and be part of the National Team in the future. The School, only set-up in April of last year, stresses the fun and social side of tennis which is an ideal sport for boys and girls to get outdoor exercise, while having fun and making new friends. This is how the idea of Participation Day came about – putting the focus on participation rather than on winning, where the junior tennis players (and parents) automatically relax and enjoy the game rather than worry about winning or losing.

The second Participation Day was organized a few days ago where a cluster of young kids aged from 4 and 7 years played tennis team games and went through fitness races. The older kids played a mini tournament along with fun tennis games. At the end of the event, sponsored by NEXT, all the players were presented with a medal, for their participation. Both Claire and Chris were part of the junior and National tennis team and have travelled around Europe as juniors. “Now, through St. Andrews Tennis School, we would like to see more kids being given the same opportunities we had within the game”, remarked Chris. It is an ambitious project when one remembers that at 17 Chris attended the Nick Bolletieri Tennis Academy in Florida for a year where he played the likes of Andre Agassi and Jim Courier and got a tennis scholarship to Ohio State University. Claire followed in her brother’s foot steps and got a tennis scholarship to Weber State University, Utah.

During that four year period they attained their degrees and played College Tennis around the USA. They both returned to join the Malta National Tennis Team, Chris holding the Malta Champion spot and both representing Malta in the local and International Events such as Davis Cup, Federation Cup, and Small Nations Games among others. The idea of the Participation Day has been successful and the second ‘Day’ saw an increase in the number of juniors entering and enjoying themselves in an active and social environment. The next St. Andrews Tennis School event will be Participation Comino over a weekend in April where two days of tennis fun with an overnight stay at the Comino Bay Hotel are planned.

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