Former GB aces are a hit at foundation launch

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The Riverside Tennis Foundation was launched at the club on Saturday by former GB Davis Cup players Danny Sapsford and James Auckland.

More than 50 players travelled from far and wide to benefit from Danny and James’ expertise in a series of coaching clinics across the afternoon, with participants ranging from three to 63 years old.

The sessions were buzzing and the players worked hard to impress the international coaches.

The younger players at the club were desperate to play against the pros to see whether they could match up against their skills, and they hit a few winners against the experts.

There were certainly a whole host of happy faces coming off court after the sessions, which ran in the Tennis Bubble on Goldington Road.

After the clinics, eight players had been successful in their bids to spend 15 minutes with the pros one on one.

The majority of the players who secured these slots chose to work on aspects of their game with the pros, but the gathering crowd took great delight in watching Riverside director of tennis Neil Frankel take on Auckland in an extended tie break shootout.

Despite getting off to a solid start, Neil couldn’t match the precision and power of Auckland, who ran out victorious by 15 points to 11.

The day culminated in a series of mini exhibition matches, with some of the best players from Riverside taking on the pros at doubles.

The watching crowds were treated to a feast of fantastic tennis as the Riverside players threw everything at Sapsford and Auckland in a bid to chalk up a win against the pros.

The only home success of the day came from Brennan Connelly and Claudia Johnson who scraped home 5-3 having got off to a flying start with an ace from Brennan which will live long in the memory.

The success of the activities on the day, and the subsequent money raised, will enable The Riverside Foundation to deliver a further 30 hours’ free coaching in local schools, on top of the already promised 100 hours.

Newly appointed head of the foundation, Nabeel Mardi, said: “We are delighted to have officially launched the Riverside Tennis Foundation and now look forward to rolling out the promised hours to schools in the area.”

He added: “We’ll be taking a mixture of ‘tennis for all’ sessions alongside more targeted Talent ID sessions in schools and look forward to seeing more players develop a love for the game.”

Nabeel will also be taking Taster Sessions for adults throughout the year which, are open for all to attend – the first session is taking place at the club on Friday, February 20 from 6.45pm-8pm.

To take part in this, or to find out more about the work of the Riverside Tennis Foundation and how to get involved, please email foundation@riversidetennisbedford.co.uk