Academy for tennis aces is booming

Kevin Baker, left, with Second Sea Lord, Vice-Admiral David Steel. Picture: Malcolm Wells (131215-0472)
Kevin Baker, left, with Second Sea Lord, Vice-Admiral David Steel. Picture: Malcolm Wells (131215-0472)
Blu Baker in action this season

Baker on the rise in Florida

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Teaming up with the Royal Navy has allowed Portsmouth Tennis Academy to serve up top-quality coaching in the city.

And Portsmouth head coach Kevin Baker, 51, believes the early signs are promising.

The academy now has a strong training programme in place to help develop players, with adults and juniors feeling the benefits.

It has the opportunity to expand and really make a mark on British Tennis.

Baker is delighted with progress since the change.

He said: ‘We’ve had a complete refurbishment.

‘Now we have a proper centre people can come and just enjoy their tennis.

‘When we took it over, it gave me the opportunity to do exactly what I wanted with the academy and that was to set up a strong programme for the kids.

‘We have more kids from outside the city, coming from Basingstoke and Winchester, who want to be part of our junior programme.

‘It just shows how quickly things have grown.’

Since the academy has undergone its restructuring process, Baker and the rest of his coaches have created a relaxed and friendly environment for everyone to enjoy.

With a strong junior programme in place, the academy are focused on helping develop young players on a one-to-one basis.

Baker is also looking to reach out to youngsters in a bid to get them more involved in a sport that, thanks to the likes of Andy Murray, has a lot more media coverage.

The long-term plan is to help these young players fulfil the potential they have within the sport and open doors to much bigger opportunities.

Baker said: ‘We are starting a schools’ road show next year, where we are going out to schools just to try drum up some excitement in the sport.

‘This will hopefully get more players into our programme at a younger age and we can help develop their skills from there.

‘We are starting to see kids coming along once a week just for the social aspect of the sport and they enjoy just hitting a ball around.’

Portsmouth Academy are based at Burnaby Road and anyone can go along to play tennis.