The LTA has been shortlisted as finalists in three categories for the prestigious Sports Business Awards 2021. The three nominations recognise our response to the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the development and launch of our new and innovative junior programme LTA Youth, and our commitment to making inclusion an everyday part of tennis through our new inclusion strategy.
The Sports Business Awards recognise and reward achievement by sports organisations that facilitate sporting excellence and endeavours, and are intended to salute and champion their resilience, adaptability and resourcefulness, in particular, that shown over the last year.
The LTA has been announced as finalists in the below categories:
- Best Covid-19 Response by a Sport
- Best Sports Governing Body Initiative – for LTA Youth
- Sports Diversity Award
Best Covid-19 Response by a Sport
The LTA’s response to Covid-19 pandemic covered three key areas: protecting the tennis community from the impact of the pandemic, keeping people active during lockdown and once courts reopened, and supporting our elite players and providing opportunities for them to train and play.
With tennis courts across the country being forced to close in March last year, by the start of April 2020 we’d announced millions of pounds worth of emergency COVID-19 support packages to help protect the sport from the initial impact of the crisis. The comprehensive package made support available to tennis venues, coaches, officials, and players to the value of £20m.
We then quickly repurposed digital content we’d developed for our LTA Youth programme to encourage families to remain active at home through the pandemic, and for children to learn through tennis, being one of the first sports to provide such ‘at home’ resources.
Alongside this, we led the way for the sport sector in navigating government guidance and announcements, making sense of complicated Government announcements by providing easy to follow step by step guidance for tennis players, venues, coaches and officials alongside simplified grids to help them return to play safely.
Such was the success of this, our dedicated coronavirus information page received over one million page views, with the guidance helping tennis participation increase across the whole of 2020 by 8% vs. 2019 despite the long periods of closed courts. This particular element of our Covid-19 response has also been recognised with a nomination for Best Communications During Covid-19 for the Covid Response Awards.
For our elite players, the National Tennis Centre hosted over 1,000 competitive matches in 2020 for 150 players. Events such as the LTA British Tour and Battle of the Brits Team Tennis provided opportunities for players to compete and earn money while the international tours were suspended.
Best Sports Governing Body Initiative – LTA Youth
The LTA’s new and innovative junior programme, LTA Youth, was created to connect all tennis activity for juniors, building on the success of previous tennis initiatives to provide an offer that looks and feels the same, regardless of whether a child is playing in a school, park or club.
Aimed at kids aged 4-18, LTA Youth aims to help more children enjoy the benefits of playing and staying in tennis, whatever their age, gender, ability, disability or background.
At its heart is an innovative coaching curriculum for LTA Accredited Coaches and schools. The first national curriculum for tennis ever written, this is based on world leading expertise, research and science, and draws on insight from parents and kids.
With the pandemic restricting delivery of our coach and teacher training and delaying the launch of sessions, we pivoted our LTA Youth Schools programme, quickly making our educational content, available to help teachers and parents support children’s education whilst at home during lockdown. In addition, we provided an ‘At Home’ content series to give families fun ways to keep active, healthy and entertained.
The full roll out of LTA Youth has seen great success with over 500 coaches signed up and trained to deliver the programme to children in communities across the country , while over 10,000 schools have signed up to deliver LTA Youth Schools to their pupils.
Sports Diversity Award
The LTA’s vision of ‘Tennis Opened Up’ has inclusion at its core, putting it at the very heart of our strategic plans to grow the sport. While we know we have further to go, we have made progress, providing a strong platform to build on.
From our ground-breaking LTA SERVES programme taking tennis to new communities, LTA Open Court getting a record number of disabled people playing, and LTA She Rallies empowering and expanding the number of women and girls coaching and playing, we’ve made progress and have a strong platform to build on.
- Over 30,000 young people taking part in LTA SERVES, 75% from a lower socio-economic background, 50% from ethnically diverse communities.
- 13,000 players and nearly 400 venues across the country are part of our ‘Open Court’ disability tennis programme.
- 40% of adult yearly players are female.
- 50 female ambassadors and 2,000 activators trained since our LTA She Rallies programme started.
- First National Governing Body to sign up to Sporting Equals Charter to actively promote greater involvement in sport activity among ethnically diverse communities.
- People from a diverse ethnic background feeling “Tennis is for people like me” rose by 14% after the LTA Play Your Way campaign.
- 130 Tennis For Free sites, with a target to get to 200 in 2021.
Part of the journey, though, is knowing how far you still have to go – and we need to do more. To help us go further, faster, we published an Inclusion Strategy for tennis in Britain, to embed long term cultural change with the ultimate goal of people playing, working and volunteering in, and watching our sport reflect the diversity of our communities.
Developed from a starting point of listening to lived experiences, it sets out five key areas of work with 25 commitments to drive change, underpinned by 46 priority actions to make the ambition of the strategy a reality.
To help us do that, our IDEA Group and new LTA Council and Board appointments will positively contribute to the diversity of thoughts, ideas and approaches to delivering tennis opened up. While we have a long way to go, our Inclusion Strategy is a clear and transparent commitment to making the progress we want our sport to achieve.
To view the full shortlists for the Sport Business Awards, click here.