Every secondary school in Wales is being offered the chance to help develop the next generation of tennis coaches, officials and volunteers.

Tennis Wales is launching a major programme to recruit 1,000 teenagers annually into its National Tennis Leaders programme, which develops future coaches, referees and event organisers.

“We’ll be offering every school the chance to have a tennis leaders course for pupils aged 13-16,” said Ellie Lewis, Tennis Wales coach development manager.

“We will bring in a local coach to run the course for a token charge, and we’ll follow this up with a big incentive scheme to support the young people as they progress either into a professional career in tennis or as volunteers at a local club.”

The Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA) Tennis Leaders programme introduces young people to positions of responsibility in tennis. Modules cover: introduction to tennis, volunteering at your tennis venue, leading a practice session, helping at your school, and helping at a competition.

Once they qualify, the new leaders will be able to build up rewards by volunteering at  their school or local club.

As part of the initiative, Tennis Wales will also bring touchtennis into the school, with an introductory session and a free competitions and activities resource for the school to run touchtennis all year round.

Touchtennis provides a new accessible way to play tennis, enabling people of all abilities and fitness levels to enjoy the sport.

“The Tennis Wales National Leaders Programme will enable us to bring in a whole new cohort of potential coaches, officials and – of course, players,” said Ellie Lewis.

“Our aim is to bring through 1,000 people every year until 2020. If we do that, we will transform the face of the sport in Wales.”

The programme, starting on St David’s Day, March 1st, will potentially reach every one of the 220 secondary schools in Wales.

“Junior tennis participation in Wales is at an all-time high and our schools competitions are the envy of the rest of Britain, but we can’t afford to be complacent,” said Tennis Wales chief executive, Peter Drew.

“We have to ensure we have a sustainable flow of qualified professionals and volunteers to support future development.

“This ambitious programme could make a huge difference – not just in the sheer numbers of people it could bring into the game, but also by making tennis, in the form of touchtennis, accessible in parts of Wales which are not traditional tennis areas.

“I’m delighted that Inspire2Coach is sponsoring the Leaders programme and that we have the support of the Urdd, which provides tennis club programmes and coach training, and has the backing of the Urdd for the scheme, which can be delivered entirely in Welsh.”

Information on all aspects of tennis in Wales is available from Tennis Wales at 029 20 463335 or www.lta.org.uk/in-your-area/Wales/