The West

Coaches see net gain in young tennis players
Tennis kids pictured in Peppermint Grove are Henry De Kevelenger,8, (Left) Ella De Kevelenger, 10, Jack Salom, 11, and Tom Rodwell, 11, Picture : Lincoln Baker/The West Australian

Perth's junior tennis coaches are seeing some of the biggest participation rates in years as hordes of children aspire to being the next Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal.

Televised tournaments in Brisbane and Sydney and Perth's Hopman Cup had many picking up a racquet for the first time and the Australian Open, starting on Monday, is expected to further boost numbers at clinics.

Prime Tennis coach Troy Hargreaves said 220 children signed up for the last term of tennis, 40 per cent more than the same term the year before.

"I've noticed, starting this month, they're coming down for a hit more," Mr Hargreaves said.

"Our numbers are actually really good and a lot of the coaches are actually having their best numbers now."

At Wanneroo and Ocean Ridge tennis clubs, junior coach Mike Roberts has seen a 15 per cent increase in young players.

He said the final term last month was his most popular yet and more than 100 children were now playing regularly at the two clubs.

"I'm starting to get a few phone calls and I know why they're calling," he said. "They really like Federer and Nadal."

Melville Tennis Centre director Glen Popovsky said events such as the Hopman Cup were great for promoting the sport to youngsters. But tennis lacked a top Australian player for children to emulate.

Mr Hargreaves said for more to take on tennis over more popular sports such as AFL and cricket, Australians needed a top player.

The West Australian

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