Sunderland youngsters meet Wimbledon star Mark Phillipoussis and Judy Murray as group wins £5,000 for tennis scheme

A charity giving disadvantaged youngsters the chance to play tennis has been served with an award and a £5,000 prize at Wimbledon.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 12 July, 2019, 11:45
Fifteen-loving it. Youngsters on the A690 Youth Initiative on the project's pop-up tennis court.

The Springwell-based A690 Youth Initiative provides activities that might otherwise be denied to young people between the ages of five and 19, as well as adults recovering from brain injuries and people with disabilities.

The initiative is part of the St Mary and St Peter's Community Project, based on Springwell Road.

A690 Youth Initiative development workers Nick Hill and Danielle Oliver with Judy Murray at Wimbledon.

Members of the project went to collect their Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) Community Award, where they rubbed shoulders with sporting royalty including legendary tennis coach Judy Murray and England netball coach Tracey Neville.

The group was also invited to the Queen’s tournament in London in June, where some of the youngsters played table tennis against 2003 Wimbledon runner-up Mark Phillipoussis.

At Wimbledon, they were presented with their prize by Davis Cup winning captain Leon Smith and rugby commentator Nick Mullins.

The £5,000 will be put straight into the project.

A690 Youth Initiative development workers Nick Hill and Danielle Oliver, with Davis Cup winning captain Leon Smith (R) and rugby commentator Nick Mullins (L)

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Nick Hill is a development worker with the A690 Youth Initiative. He is delighted with the award, as well as the profile it provides.

He said: “Tennis isn’t usually a sport that gets much attention in the area. It’s an activity we provide to some disadvantaged kids. We want to raise their aspirations.

“We were invited to Wimbledon last week. The ceremony was in the LTA Suite where we were presented with a Community Award. We were the only project from the North East to win in any category.

The project has previously been awarded a grant from the government through Sport England, and Street Games, which aims to make positive changes through sport. They donated £10,000 to set up the scheme, which was spent on things like a pop-up tennis court that can be set up anywhere.

Tennis legend Mark Phillipoussis meets youngsters from the A690 Youth Initiative.

Nick added: “We’re trying to make sure that tennis is available to everyone. We’ve had about 500 people taking part since we set up in September 2017.

“We spoke to Judy Murray at Wimbledon. We travelled to Birmingham to have some training from her last year and we let her know how we were getting on.