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Finchley schoolteacher loves Local Tennis Leagues

PUBLISHED: 16:00 27 September 2017

Local Tennis Leagues are aimed at giving casual players a more competitive, but friendly, playing environment, without having the expense of joining a club

Local Tennis Leagues are aimed at giving casual players a more competitive, but friendly, playing environment, without having the expense of joining a club

Archant

Spreading interest in sport often involves an increased focus on children and young people in order to boost involvement from a younger age.

However, an initiative by the Lawn Tennis Association dedicates time and effort into increasing the popularity of the game among people over the age of 18.

And for 27-year-old Finchley resident Alex Pepe, this is a breath of fresh air.

Designed to create a unique playing experience of mixed-sex singles and doubles matches, as well as women’s only leagues, the Local Tennis Leagues operate in all areas of the UK and represent a revolution in public and park tennis.

After signing up, players create their own online account where they receive the contact details of their opponents, which allow them to schedule matches as well as receive regular updates, reminders and incentives to play.

Primary schoolteacher Pepe has been persuaded to get back into tennis by the LTA’s initiative.

He is a member of the Pavilion and New River Tennis Leagues, and credits the league with firing up a renewed love of the sport.

“I played when I was younger and it got me back into the sport,” he said.

“It’s really, really good – sometimes I think we put so much into competitions for children, but actually adults are just as passionate to win and compete as they are as kids.

“I think sometimes we forget that passion for a game, but it gets the adrenaline and the endorphins flowing as well.

“It’s all about meeting new people, socialising with loads of people as well. That’s the best thing about it.”

Aimed at everyday players who use parks and public courts, Local Tennis Leagues is among a number of initiatives supported by the LTA, the governing body of tennis in the UK.

All told, the LTA is investing more than £125 million in public access tennis, much of which will be spent on renewing public courts and ventures like Local Tennis Leagues have helped changed perceptions of tennis.

Through grassroots organisation like this, the LTA is keen to demonstrate that tennis is anything but an elitist sport.

While the leagues embody a friendly ethos, all players are entitled to become British Tennis Members and have their results reported to the LTA for ratings.

“I joined maybe three or four years ago,” added Pepe. “Originally I was quite hesitant as I didn’t want to play competitively, I just liked hitting it in the parks, but then a mate of mine said ‘why not sign up for the doubles league?’

“It was the first time I’d ever played a competitive game of tennis against unknown people – we got absolutely thrashed!

“But we had a laugh about it and met some great people – from playing in the doubles I then entered the singles, we’ve entered a number of leagues now.

“It’s all about meeting new people, socialising with loads of people as well. That’s the best thing about it.”

*The next round of the New River Tennis League begins on November 30. To join, visit localtennisleagues.com/newriver and sign up before November 27. The rounds lasts eight weeks and costs £18 to join, but get 20% off the next round with promo code Save-P20.

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