As a wave of excitement sweeps across China during the Shanghai Rolex Masters in October, a number of young students are mastering their own tennis skills in schools in Shanghai.
The ANZ Junior Tennis program, launched this year to coincide with our sponsorship of the Shanghai Rolex Masters, is providing more than 1,000 hours of coaching for 500 students over the entire schooling year.
Most recently, more than 120 students from Zhonghua 3rd Primary School, East Fuxin 3rd Primary School and Qingyun Middle School spent a morning in training before a round-robin competition was held in the afternoon amongst all participants. The program is run on mini-tennis courts equipped with child-friendly racquets and slow-moving, oversized tennis balls to make it easier for the students to play. As well as the ability to learn new skills on the court, students are showing a greater excitement for learning off the court, which is resulting in academic improvement.
"I’ve already learned the basic skills of playing tennis”
Students and parents commented on how beneficial the program was, on and off the court. Rainbow Wang, a student from Zhonghua 3rd Primary School, participated in the clinic and loved how she could develop new skills. In particular, Rainbow felt the training was “very interesting because we started from scratch. I’ve already learned the basic skills of playing tennis”.
Rainbow’s mother, Qing Ye, is a supporter of the program and noticed her daughter’s interest in sport has grown since attending the ANZ Junior Tennis clinic: “I have found that she has become more active in sports and is especially interested in the competition side of the clinic. These tennis classes motivate her to participate in the training and other exercise too.”
Michael Zhang also took part in the clinic and is just as excited to be learning about tennis: “I have never learned how to play tennis before, but now I know all the basic skills, I’m excited to develop even more. I also like the competition part, I think because my performance is good.”
Michael’s father, Weigang Zhang, is a big supporter of sport as he attended and graduated from a professional sports school. “Michael has attended almost all the sporting events at his school and before he began playing tennis, played badminton,” Mr Zhang said. “I think this program is a very good way for us all to learn more about tennis.”
Mr Zhang also noted that Michael’s attendance at the clinics has given him a renewed love for school, with his academic performance improving along with his forehand. “Playing tennis with his classmates has helped him enjoy attending school again,” he said. “It has also impacted positively on other activities because tennis has become a reward for when he completes his assignments and homework.”
While tennis may not be as popular in China as elsewhere in the world, the ANZ Junior Tennis program is ensuring a whole new generation falls in love with this great game. Amongst other students, Michael is looking forward to the Shanghai Rolex Masters because of his involvement in the program. “I will definitely be watching the tournament and cheering for Roger Federer,” he said.