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Two young volunteers who help run free weekly tennis sessions at a Lichfield park have just gained their first coaching qualifications.
Sam Brown, aged 18, and 17-year-old Charlotte Ward, who help at the Sunday afternoon sessions at Beacon Park organised by the Tennis for Free (TFF) charity are now hoping to build careers in coaching.
The pair recently completed their LTA Level 1 coaching qualification, funded by TFF, and the charity’s regional development officer Paul Bayliss said the pair were excellent role models.
“Sam is a fantastic example of someone whose love of tennis has driven him since he was a young boy,” he said. “At first he was a quiet lad who didn’t say much but just loved hitting balls. Now at 18 he is coaching more than 100 children a week and is a real asset to the coaching team.
“Charlotte is a chirpy, cheeky person who loves her tennis. She brings a big smile to the coaching sessions and is a role model to young girls.”
Charlotte, from Great Haywood, started to play tennis at the age of nine at Lichfield Friary Lawn Tennis Club where her mum Hilary played.
Through watching her own coaches, Charlotte wanted to get more involved and gradually got into coaching as a volunteer.
Mum Hilary said: “Tennis helps Charlotte stay fit and active and, as she is not attending school through health issues, it also has a good social benefit.
“By volunteering she is helping out those who coached her when she was younger. It is great to see her develop with the game and put back into the sport some of what she has taken out.”
Sam, from Lichfield, started playing tennis at Lichfield Friary Tennis Club aged just three and also goes into schools with the coaching team to encourage youngsters to take up the sport.
His dad John said: “Sam started helping the coaches when he was 14 and he has developed so much.
“The coaching uses the ability he has got to help others get into tennis and in doing so he has gained a great deal of confidence in himself.
“At 6ft 4” he is like a giant to the younger kids but he is so patient with them and they love having him as a coach.”
Run in partnership with Lichfield Friary Lawn Tennis Club and the local council, the free TFF sessions are held at Beacon Park every Sunday between 2pm and 4pm and all equipment is provided.
Anyone interested in joining can register at www.beaconparktennis.co.uk.