Dubai-based academy Tennis 360 has joined forces with Judy Murray, mother of tennis superstars Andy and Jamie Murray, to bring her popular Miss-Hits programme to the UAE later this year.
Judy, the former Great Britain Fed Cup captain, who coached both her sons in their formative years and has of course seen both Andy and Jamie go on to lift Wimbledon titles among many other triumphs, is excited to bring her Miss-Hits concept to the Middle East region.
Miss-Hits was founded by Judy in association with the Lawn Tennis Association to make tennis more welcoming and exciting for girls aged between five and eight – and ultimately attract more young girls and female coaches to get involved with the game.
Now, in partnership with with UAE-based Tennis 360, a world-class tennis academy at Meydan headed by Business Development Director Gwen Sproule, Miss-Hits is set to expand its reach and help to boost participation among girls across Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Later this summer, Judy will visit Dubai to see Miss-Hits and Tennis 360 combine to offer a range of sessions.
Tennis 360 will launch the programme at Dubai Sports World – a popular indoor training facility set up each summer at Dubai World Trade Center.
Indeed, parents can look forward to enrolling their children in programmes that are designed to deliver fun, girly and colourful tennis lessons – with the aim of being non-forceful introductions into the sport’s basics.
In the very near future, the Tennis 360 academy is going to start running Miss-Hits sessions. Full details on the course options in the UAE will be released soon.
“With Tennis 360’s help, we are going to get a feel for the Miss-Hits programme in the UAE over the next few months and I’m looking forward to coming out to train some coaches later this summer,” Judy told Sport360.
“The whole reason I set Miss-Hits up was because it was a problem and concern that not enough girls were playing the sport at entry level so we have programmes that are attractive and easy to learn.”
Fun, friends, fitness. The reasons girls do sport.— Miss-Hits (@Miss_Hits) May 22, 2017
Team activity is crucial. Create the right environment 4 girls. pic.twitter.com/7RkGuASdIw
Having coached across the length and breadth of the sport for over 20 years – Judy knows a thing or to about the challenges of getting girls playing tennis and how to keep them there.
For those kids looking to play the game – they may not know the Serena Williams’ and Maria Sharapovas of this world – but, instead – Judy designed interactive tennis characters to help them learn the principles of the game, shots and scoring-systems.
Indeed, ‘Selena Serve’, ‘Bella Backhand’ and ‘Valentina Volley’ are names that stand out and children associate them with the shot they are playing.
These characters, in situ with the practical Miss-Hits sessions that come in two separate six-week chunks and a supplementary online app that supports tennis play, have already helped hundreds of girls take up tennis in the UK.
“Girls love being with their friends – it’s critical that there’s a girls’ only option for them with Miss-Hits, because so often, tennis is played in mixed groups,” said Judy.
“Boys are more noisy, physical and competitive than girls and more often than not – that puts girls off and is intimidating. With Miss-Hits, we’ve put together all the things little girls like to do in one, cuddly toys, cartoon characters, being with their friends, pinks and purples and so forth – are all added to the skill-building activities that are needed to play tennis.
“Gwen and her team saw it as a really good fit and the ultimate goal is to obviously get more girls playing tennis but to create a product here that encourages more women to take part in the programme – and you don’t need any technical qualification to teach it.
“You just need an aptitude and desire to work with children. I think also in the UAE there are very few female coaches so this product might encourage some mums, students, older students, PE and primary school teachers to actually say ‘here’s a nice simple product to teach and help get more people involved with tennis’.”
Valentina Volley balloons. Red hearts! Available from Tiger Feet. pic.twitter.com/ccCd9Le88D— Miss-Hits (@Miss_Hits) May 20, 2017
For a region blessed with near perfect weather all-year round besides the hot summer time, Murray feels there is tremendous potential to deliver Miss-Hits and make a big impact.
Murray also feels that Miss-Hits is not only a great opportunity for young girls to play tennis – it’s also a fantastic chance to get more female coaches involved and working in the UAE.
‘The facilities here are great and the ambition, with Tennis 360 too, is to get more girls playing tennis. It’s about being contemporary and trying to give girls what they want – if they don’t do that – they will find something else to do that is more appealing.
“We want more girls playing tennis in their own backyard, it’s about getting them in and retaining their love for tennis.”
Judy, who has watched son Andy – in particular, the world’s number one ranked player – handle the attention of the media spotlight since he was a teenager and taste success of the highest order – is well aware of how important role models are for youngsters coming through in the sport.
Although she maintains examples of success and professionalism are critical for young children to admire – the 57-year-old believes there has to be a basis of which to build from where young girls and players are sticking to tennis – before their mid-teens where so often than not many branch off into other areas.
She said: “In the UK, we’re very fortunate we now have Johanna Konta as a contender at major events and she is a driving force in British tennis. Role models are one thing but any sport is only good as it’s grassroots so if somebody watches Wimbledon on television and are inspired, there needs to be a local facility in place where you can play and the activity can stimulate you.
“But I’m a big believer in role models as well to get more girls playing, especially in the UAE – it’s an area that needs more female tennis coaches. I think they are able to understand how to work with little girls so much better, the changes their bodies are going through and the way they start to react and respond to things – this can really help the retention of more girls playing tennis further down the line.
“I’m hoping the Miss-Hits programme can inspire more women to take up a possible coaching career and that can only be good for the game.”
The great news for tennis lovers in the UAE is that Miss-Hits is very much open to all – whether you’re a parent looking for a new activity for your little girl or interested in becoming a Miss-Hits coach – with their website providing full details of how you can get involved.
All equipment is provided at the sessions and prices vary – visit www.miss-hits.co.uk for more information.