Australian tennis ace Matt Ebden has delighted prep students at Traralgon’s Liddiard Road Primary School with a participation clinic and racquet giveaway designed to introduce children to the sport.
Ebden was joined by representatives from Tennis Australia and ANZ to celebrate the ANZ Hot Shots racquet giveaway which has delivered more than 80,000 tennis racquets to primary school children across the country since 2015.
Each student was presented with a brand new racquet of their very own to take home and enjoy.
Ebden said the gift of a tennis racquet was a huge step towards encouraging more children to participate in the sport.
“It’ll be great to grow our sport and give them a little racquet and a chance to play,” Ebden said.
“I think [initiatives like] this are really important.
“I think obviously in Australia we have a big presence of AFL football and to kick the soccer ball or the football is quite easy … tennis obviously you need a racquet and someone to play against or a wall, so the easier we can make it for them and the more opportunities we can give them and the more exposure the better.”
Students were also given the opportunity to fire questions at Ebden before taking to the court for a Hot Shots session.
“The kids are really excited, I’ve done a couple of these with kids at schools around Australia in the past and the questions they ask are hilarious,” he said.
“It’s great to get some excitement and get a racquet in their hand, hitting a ball and playing tennis.”
Ebden said the apparent growth of tennis in Australia was “exciting”.
“When I was a kid I saw [tennis] a lot on television … I think it’s even bigger now, with initiatives like these from Tennis Australia and ANZ in the global scope of tennis, the grand slams have gotten bigger, the television audiences have gotten bigger and I feel like the media is growing with it and the sport is definitely growing,” he said.
“The numbers are there to prove that year in, year out. We all love it and we think it’s a great lifetime sport for everyone.
“I’m excited about where tennis is heading and I’m glad to be in the sport. “