Pupils from the Buchan School have won this year’s Zurich Inter-Schools Mini Tennis Championship.
The finals took place recently on the indoor courts at Albany Tennis Club in Douglas, with pupils from eight primary schools taking part in the event following a series of regional heats across the Island. The Championship marks the end of the annual Zurich Primary Schools Mini Tennis Programme whereby a small number of LTA-qualified tennis teachers, led by Albany’s Head Coach, Ian Watson, visit the majority of the Isle of Man’s junior schools to deliver a six-week beginners course. Pupils participating in the programme are seven years of age and, for most of them, tennis is an entirely new sport.
Following the end of the programme, many of the primary schools taking part will go on to teach tennis to pupils, with a number of teachers having also received training to help develop the sport as part of the sports curriculum. The programme has been supported by Zurich for the last eight years; without the company’s support, its delivery would not be possible.
Each team taking part in the Championship element of the programme is allowed to enter between four and six pupils, with at least one boy or girl in the squad. Pupils who took part in the final included those from:
- The Buchan School (Castletown)
- Victoria Road School (Castletown)
- Cronk-y-Berry School (Douglas)
- Ballacottier (Douglas)
- Marown Junior School
- Foxdale School
- Laxey Primary School
- Sulby School
After taking part in a round-robin tournament, the semi-finals were contested by Sulby, Cronk-y-Berry, the Buchan School and Ballacottier; both the Buchan School and Ballacottier School reached the final, with Buchan pupils narrowly edging victory.
Coach, Ian Watson, commented: “The children who’ve taken part in the 2014 programme have really embraced their lessons, and I am delighted with the level of commitment they have shown over the last six weeks as well as the enjoyment they have taken from this. It’s important to get children active, developing new skills and learning to play as part of a team from a young age, and without the support of Zurich, we would not be able to facilitate this programme on the Isle of Man.”
Zurich International Life’s Communications Manager, Merita Taylor, commented: “Considering some of the pupils taking part in the Championship final had only had six weeks of coaching prior to the event, I am very impressed with their playing standard and how quickly they’ve mastered the basics of the game. All of those who participated in the final should be very proud of themselves. Zurich is proud to sponsor such a wide-reaching community programme and I hope the children continue to play tennis in the future.”