WIMBLEDON arrived a week early as a group of students took part in a pilot project to play tennis.
The project at Harbour School in Tipner encouraged students to play tennis as part of a six-week coaching course.
It was a joint initiative with the Respect programme and the Lawn Tennis Association.
The school provides a specialist service for young people with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties or medical needs.
And to mark the end of the project the pupils got the chance to take part in their own tournament.
Teacher David MacAskill said: ‘It went really well. It’s a real-life situation. It brings real life back into the classroom.
‘Queens finished the day before and the pupils would have seen on the news that Andy Murray won the tournament.’
Mr MacAskill said that it helps the students from a social, moral and cultural aspect.
‘It’s putting students into positions which isn’t about an individual it’s about competing with other people, celebrating when it’s right to celebrate and laughing when it’s right to laugh.
‘All of these features give them a sense of pride and a sense of belonging.
‘In a mainstream school you expect that everybody gets that.
‘It’s challenging them to do things that they possibly never do. They have the chance to take part.’
It comes as a new tennis centre based near the Mountbatten Centre is set to open in the autumn.
Around 50 people including staff and parents gathered to watch 13-year-old Ben Oastler win the competition.
He said: ‘I’ve never played tennis before.
‘I didn’t think I would win but each round it got more exciting.
‘I would like to play for fun and I will probably play with my mates in the summer.’
Mr MacAskill added: ‘We are hoping with the Respect project and with the start of the new tennis facility on our doorstep that this is an opportunity for the students to go across and play.’