25 February 2022

The University of East London (UEL) has been named 'University of the Year' for tennis in the 2022 LTA Essex Awards, and now go through to the LTA Regional awards.

Without a tennis heritage or any tennis courts on campus, the University was able to win the award through a range of creative initiatives to diversity the tennis workforce and a community-driven approach to talent development.

UEL is a shining example of a successful, diverse, and inclusive university within the heart of a socio-economic deprived area, with the tennis programme at UEL continuing to push boundaries as the tennis team now compete with Tier 3 BUCS universities across the UK.

The University puts the community at the forefront of its tennis programme by recruiting local talent and developing a workforce to give back to the East London area. Through partnering with the local WimX (Wimbledon experience) group, a foundation created by former elite tennis professionals, many students within the UEL tennis programme obtain coaching qualifications.

UEL students are also required to complete over eight hours of volunteering delivering the 'Raising Aspirations' programme which invites local primary schools on campus to access UEL facilities, watch University BUCS fixtures and receive valuable mentorship from the students.

BUCS biggest tennis weekend

Programme leader for BSc Sport and Exercise Sciences, Richard Buscombe, said, "It is great to receive this award for our tennis programme. Our diversity, creativity and the support on offer is what sets us apart, and these values are helping us to break down barriers in sport.

"UEL is an 'untraditional' tennis institution, but our inclusive approach is resulting in positive outcomes. We are providing access to tennis careers and mentorship to students from diverse and often disadvantaged backgrounds, and these are people who may never have considered a career in tennis until now.

"Our approach is already helping to create a more inclusive and forward-thinking workforce in tennis. We have a model of best practice in terms of partnership working, that coupled with the high performance sport element of our offer, means we are a unique institution in the UK University tennis landscape."

The variation in the programme has positively diversified the workforce skillset and the partnership between the local WimX and UEL has proven a great success in developing local talent into a strong workforce within the area. WimX takes several students from the programme every year into the varying coaching qualifications they offer. The students are then deployed across Newham and Waltham Forest to coach in local parks programmes.

UEL also has a dual career programme that enables students to successfully train at a high level, but also excel in academics. In recognition of the suitability to support individuals, the University became TASS Dual Career Accredited.

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