Despite what people say, the LTA does not have sufficient funds to help all the young players who need help with their development.
Tennis is an expensive game when it comes to developing young talent from beginner to Tour level – perhaps as much as £250,000 (with the bulk of those funds being required to compete internationally).
The LTA operates one of the largest player support programmes in world tennis. Many players benefit directly through Matrix funding and some indirectly through a £2.5m support programme for performance centres throughout the country.
For younger players, 12 and under, direct funding is available based on a mixture of talent and results. As the player gets older the funding is based upon the achievement of rankings gained from international tournaments. The qualifying rankings the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) ranking for players up to 18 & Under and the ATP & WTA computer rankings. The top funding amount is given to those selected as LTA Pro Development players, decreasing through Matrix A and B, so players who reach the required ranking know precisely how much they will receive.
The system is tough and fair, but somewhat inflexible. The LTA acknowledges that some players outside their system are disadvantaged because they cannot compete equally. Leaving aside attendance at an academy (perhaps the most famous, Nick Bolletieri’s, costs about US $ 40,000 per annum) it’s easy to see how a financially challenged family could not afford to send their child abroad to compete for TE and ITF ranking points. Each European trip is likely to cost a minimum of £1000 per week.
It is these players that Tennis First seeks to help and they fall into 4 main categories:
(a) the financially challenged
(b) players who have had long term injuries and whose ranking has fallen significantly
(c) late developers
(d) LTA funded players who do not have sufficient funding to allow them to maximise their development
Tennis First chooses it’s players independently and is flexible enough to direct resources where they are most needed. That could mean extra coaching; specialist advice (e.g. physical training, psychology); travel expenses; or contributions to academies.
None of the money is distributed without proper scrutiny of the effectiveness of the grant, both for the recipient and the charity.
Grants are awarded annually and grantees must re-apply annually for further funding, allowing the Grants Board to assess progress and ensure that the player is still on track to becoming a Tour player.
Who we are
The Tennis First Charitable Trust (Tennis First) is an independent registered charity (no.1075649) and helps young players throughout the UK who, in our opinion, have all the attributes required and are dedicated to fulfilling their potential of reaching a senior world ranking of 250 and better.
Who supports us
Tennis First could not operate without the help of many individuals and organisations who support us. The trustees are immensely grateful to all those who contribute support, but in particular to the LTA and the Wimbledon Foundation. Other notable supporters are listed here and elsewhere on our site you will find opportunities for individual support which we hope you will take.
Who we support
Tennis is arguably the most expensive game in which to develop to a high level as a professional player and many families find the financial demands a real burden. Our aim is to give as many players as possible the opportunity to achieve their potential which they might otherwise not have. Tennis First awards grants for coaching and training, and more importantly, for the expenses incurred in competition which after the age of 12 will almost certainly involve international travel.