With all eyes on Wimbledon for the next two weeks, we will all once again be going tennis crazy. As our kids watch some of the top players in the world battling for the championship title, they will no doubt be keen to get out and hone their skills on our local courts.

What they’ll need to get going is some guidance and coaching, and here in South Wales, we can deliver some of the very best in the country.

Swansea resident FRANCESCA LEWIS has been crowned a national winner at the prestigious LTA Tennis Awards.

Francesca Lewis

Francesca has won the LTA’s Performance Coach of the Year Award after being recognised for delivering a consistently successful coaching programme and thinking innovatively outside the box during lockdown.

Francesca, who operates at the Regional Performance Development Centres in Swansea as part of the LTA Performance Pathway, has adapted creatively to the demands of the pandemic, fostered a welcoming and inclusive environment, and showed sustained leadership and teamwork in her wide-ranging role.

She was announced as the winner by Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Paralympian and Chair of ukactive, in a live-streamed awards ceremony presented by Great Britain Davis Cup captain Leon Smith who said…..

“I think I’d always just loved tennis so for me coaching was just a way of staying in the game.  

“I got a really low level of professional ranking, but it was never going to be enough to stay involved in tennis like I wanted to. 

“Coaching was that way for me to carry on doing what I love.”

“I hadn’t given it a thought about being competitive for the award, so it was a bit of a surprise and I’m still taking it in. 

“It’s good for Welsh tennis and I think it’s good for females trying to get into coaching.”

Team Wales – home nations champions

The LTA Tennis Awards are now in their sixth year and celebrate the achievements and contributions of outstanding tennis volunteers, coaches, officials, venues and players across the country.

And Francesca was hand-picked as one of 16 national winners recognised at the awards ceremony last Thursday, which honoured individuals involved in tennis at grassroots, county, regional and national level.

Nominations were drawn from over 25,000 volunteers, nearly 5,000 coaches and 1,000 officials, 22,000 schools, nearly 3,000 clubs and over 9,000 LTA approved tournaments, with Lewis recognised for her inspirational work in Wales.

Watch the video below to find out more about the Performance Coaching Principles and how the principles were developed.

Francesca is the first female Head Coach of an LTA Regional Player Development Centre, and in 2020, was coach to two junior players who were ranked No.1 in Great Britain. She was appointed captain of the GB under 16 girls’ team for the Winter Cup. 

During the period of lockdown restrictions, she has continued to inspire those she coached with online challenges, tasks, and virtual coaching sessions, and gone out of her way to gain knowledge and experience from some of the UK’s leading coaches.

Francesca has also founded ‘Fran’s Foundation’ which supports underprivileged families and young people to access tennis in Swansea and the surrounding area.

The quality and quantity of the nominations demonstrate outstanding work that has been done in tennis through the pandemic.

David Rawlinson, LTA President told us….

“The LTA Tennis Awards are a real celebration of the people that make our sport thrive.

“They celebrate the achievements made by outstanding volunteers, coaches, officials, venues and players, who are all vital in helping us to grow the game.

“The past year has been challenging for everyone, but to see the tremendous positive contributions the nominees have made to the sport and to their communities has been tremendously uplifting.”

To find out more information about the LTA Tennis Awards or for information on how to play, coach, volunteer or officiate in tennis, head to LTA.

SOUTH WALES LIFE will be at Wimbledon for the Centre Court Men’s semi-finals. We’ll bring you pictures and updates on the day.

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