Judy gets innovative in North Greenwich
Originally published on: 25/11/11 11:56
While the eyes of most tennis fans are trained on the world’s top eight tennis players (plus No.9 Janko Tipsarevic, of course) at the O2 Arena this week, Judy Murray, mother of world No.3 Andy, headed to a nearby school in North Greenwich to deliver the sport to a new audience of youngsters.
Alongside Helen McHugh of HEAD, the official ball supplier of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, Judy coined a series of fun-filled activities to enable one class at Cherry Orchard Primary School in South East London to discover the delights of tennis.
Judy kicked off the day answering questions posed by the class of 8 and 9 year olds, and for a group of kids with little exposure to tennis they certainly had some penetrating offerings. The 32 bright young seedlings were particularly amazed when Judy let them know that her youngest son had already begun traveling overseas by the time he was their age. Also asked why she could not take Andy’s place at the O2 Arena after his injury withdrawal, she replied that aside from not being good enough, she was ‘not a boy’!
Next, for the energetic bunch, it was off out into the playground to get a taste of the action.
Cherry Orchard Primary School has no tennis courts of its own but there are 54 courts dotted around the London Borough of Greenwich. There will likely be more on the way too, with discussions currently underway with the LTA for additional funding to ensure a sporting legacy continues after the Olympics have departed these shores this time next year.
“The Olympics is the biggest sporting occasion in the world and to have it in your own country is an enormous opportunity for sport to allow kids, not just to watch it on television but to come along and try anything that might be played at the event,” said Judy, who added that the playground was just fine as a setting to introduce kids to the sport.
“So long as you have a grass playing area or a hard surface or a gym, it is possible to give kids the opportunity to try all of these things,” she said. “For me that’s the most important thing – how many more children can we inspire to take up sport and follow a healthier lifestyle because of what they’ve seen, because they’ve been able to get closer to the action.”
On Thursday, the kids of Cherry Orchard participated in nine activities, each dedicated to one of the players who has starred at the O2 Arena this week. They included a ‘big serve’ activity, designed with Tomas Berdych in mind, a timed movement game to mimic the athletic style of David Ferrer and the piece de la resistance – the Andy Murray hot dog, where the kids reveled in trying to hit as many tweeners as they could in 30 seconds.
Top marks to Judy and HEAD for innovation, and they also set about binding two rackets together at the tip to create an activity where two kids each held the handle of a racket to hit the sponge ball – even Bob and Mike Bryan might struggle with that one.
The kids took part wearing t-shirts they had designed in honour of some of the world’s top players. A particular favourite was worn by a little girl who had ‘Murry (sic) is the best’ written across the front.
An inspirational morning in the shadow of the dominant O2 Arena was truly enhanced by the stardust of Judy Murray, who alongside HEAD, gave youngsters a welcome opportunity with many having never so much as picked up a racket before.