LTA pledges ‘to put racquet in every schoolchild’s hand’

The Lawn Tennis Association is aiming to provide every British primary school pupil with a tennis racquet to use by 2012 under its flagship British Tennis programme.

The news comes as the LTA announces that Aegon, the life and pensions company, has signed a £30m, five-year headline sponsorship of British Tennis.

Aegon, which owns the Scottish Equitable brand, is the first sponsor under the programme, which also gives it naming rights to a number of tournaments including the Queen’s Club event, which has been sponsored by Stella Artois for the past 30 years.

The LTA will start negotiating with brands and manufacturers over providing equipment such as racquets and nets to primary schools as part of plans to encourage children to take up tennis. Aegon will also contribute to its parks programme, which will see it invest in new tennis courts across the country.

LTA communications and commercial director Bruce Philipps says: “We want to put a tennis racquet in the hands of every child by 2012.”

The LTA’s new commercial structure was unveiled in May. Instead of offering naming rights to the tournament, the LTA built a “top to bottom” partnership, which will see investment going into areas traditionally less able to attract sponsors.

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