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With the excitement growing around Great Britain’s Davis Cup team ahead of the finals in Madrid next week, GB’s stars took some time out to host a coaching session for 35 local kids with the LTA, at the National Tennis Centre. The team hopes that events like these - combined with their efforts in Madrid - will help inspire the next generation of tennis talent in the UK.
Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski were joined on court by British number one, Dan Evans, and GB Davis Cup Captain, Leon Smith, for a jam-packed hour of tennis games and drills with LTA coaches, giving the kids a chance to play with, and learn from, some of their GB tennis heroes. With the team in first-match action next Wednesday, the kids took every opportunity to put them through their paces to make sure they are ready for the world cup of tennis.
British doubles number one and former Davis Cup champion, Jamie Murray, wasn’t afraid to get stuck in with all the games on court. “Today has been fun, they (the kids) have been pretty energetic and there has been a great atmosphere on the court. It’s not something that we often get the chance to do and it’s been cool, I’ve really enjoyed it. I hope we will inspire kids to play tennis, that’s the fun part of what we can do. It’s a great sport, it’s a fun sport, and a sport for life that I think all people of all abilities can play it.”
Captain Leon Smith believes the team have an important role to play in encouraging young talent and is looking forward to the challenges in Madrid. “If we can inspire these young children into tennis and get them involved in the sport then that’s always a positive thing for us to be involved in.
“It’s a new format of the competition so we’re excited to see how it all works, there are 18 of the best teams in the world coming together for one week of competition and it’s going to be really exciting. We’re delighted to have a strong squad ourselves and we’ll be giving it everything for the country; we look forward to getting everyone’s support.”
Many of the kids who took part, including several disability players, had also previously been part of the LTA’s Tennis for Kids initiative, which was launched off the back of the team’s historic Davis Cup win in 2015. The programme, aimed at 4-11 year olds, encourages kids to get active and try tennis for the first time, in a way that is both fun and affordable. Since its launch, over 83,000 kids across the UK have been able to develop core tennis skills through the starter programme.
“It’s fantastic to see all the kids getting the opportunity to interact and practice their skills with some of the best players in the sport” said the LTA’s Senior Programmes Manager, Sam Richardson, who helped run the session with the team. “Days like these will stay with them for the rest of their lives and I hope it inspires them to want to continue playing tennis as they grow older. Who knows, we might have the next Andy or Jamie Murray or Jo Konta here with us today! We want to give as many children as possible in the UK the opportunity to discover our sport and have exciting plans in the pipeline to further develop junior tennis across the country as we move into 2020 and beyond; there’s lots to come.”
At the finals in Madrid, Jamie, Neal and Dan will also be joined by former world number one and Wimbledon-champion, Andy Murray, and former Davis Cup winner, Kyle Edmund. The team will kick-start their campaign against the Netherlands on Wednesday 20 November, before taking on Kazakhstan in the final group stage match on Thursday 21 November. The winner of the group will then proceed to the quarter-final knockout round.
Keep up-to-date on how Great Britain's Davis Cup team is getting on in Madrid and for all the behind the scenes action by following LTA on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and signing up to LTA's free newsletter.
Great Britain's Fed Cup team will face Slovakia at the AXA Arena in Bratislava for their upcoming Fed Cup Qualifier.
The tie, taking place on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 February 2020, will be played on a clay court under a mobile roof. It will follow a best-of-five match format (four singles and one doubles), with a place in the inaugural Fed Cup Finals at stake. The new Fed Cup Finals will be held in Budapest, 14-19 April 2020.
The AXA Arena has a capacity of 4,100 and is no stranger to hosting Fed Cup ties, having hosted many over the years.
Great Britain and Slovakia's qualifying tie will be one of eight taking place across the world. The eight winning teams from Qualifiers will be joined in Budapest by 2019 finalists Australia and France, host nation Hungary and wild card recipient the Czech Republic.
The eight losing nations from Qualifiers will compete in Play-Offs against the eight winning regional Group I nations, with a place in the 2021 Qualifiers to play for.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest news about Great Britain's Fed Cup team by following the LTA on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and signing up to the LTA's free newsletter. Ticket information will be released in the coming weeks.
Great Britain's Davis Cup Captain Leon Smith has named the players to travel to Madrid for the new-format Davis Cup Finals.
Dan Evans, Andy Murray, Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski all feature in Smith's squad, with a fifth player to be confirmed in the coming weeks.
The inaugural event, to be hosted on the hard courts of La Caja Magica in Madrid from 18-24 November, will see 18 nations come together to battle for the historic Davis Cup trophy.
Smith said: “I’m delighted to name our first four players to represent GB for the Davis Cup Finals. Dan is playing some of the best tennis of his career and firmly deserves his place back inside the world’s Top 50 and it’s been absolutely fantastic to see Andy back competing again including his incredible win in Antwerp yesterday.
“Jamie and Neal have been gaining much momentum as a team with impressive semi-final runs at Cincinnati, US Open, Beijing and Shanghai. We are in a good position with improved strength and depth in our team and will be naming the fifth player in the next couple of weeks.
"We are looking forward to bringing our best tennis to the group phase and as always, we are excited to play for our many home fans and all those traveling out to Madrid.”
The competition will follow a round-robin format, before the winners of each group, along with the next two top teams, advance to knockout stages. Ties will feature two singles matches and one doubles rubber, all of which will be best-of-three tie-break sets.
2015 champions Great Britain have been placed in Group E, along with the Netherlands and Kazakhstan, who they will face on Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 respectively, with a place in the knockout stages at stake.
The quarter-finals will take place on Friday 22, with the semi-finals on Saturday 23 and the final on Sunday 24 November.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest news about the GB Davis Cup team by following LTA on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and signing up to LTA's free newsletter. Ticket information will be released in the coming weeks.
Jamie Murray and John-Patrick Smith are one match away from winning the inaugural Murray Trophy – Glasgow after a 6-2, 6-3 win over Marek Gengel and Ramkumar Ramanathan on Saturday night.
The top seeds will play Ruben Bemelmans and Daniel Masur in Sunday’s final of the ATP Challenger tournament that Murray has worked with the LTA to curate.
Murray and Smith were dominant throughout as they cruised to victory within an hour and without dropping serve at the Scotstoun Leisure Centre.
Murray said: “We played well. We took good care of our serve. They started to come back into it at the start of the second set but we held strong on serve and then played a great game to break at 4-3.
“It’s a good level of event here. There are a lot of guys trying to earn the points to move up to the next level. It would be fun to win and know I’ve won a tournament in my home country.”
Elsewhere on Saturday, Alexandre Muller defeated Ramkumar Ramanathan 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 to reach the first Challenger final of his career.
Muller will play 20-year-old Finn, Emil Ruusuvuori, who sealed his place in the final with a comfortable 6-1, 6-3 victory over Jurij Rodionov.
The doubles final will take place at 13:00 and the singles final at 15:00.
The finals will be streamed live on the LTA's Facebook and YouTube as well as the BBC Sport website.
Fans can also keep up-to-date with all the latest news and behind-the-scenes action via the LTA's Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Gosling Sports Park
Welwyn Garden City
Hertfordshire AL8 6XE