EVES Open: Papamoa students get first serve

Monday, 11 December 2023

The EVES Open is back in Pāpāmoa in less than a week and students at Pāpāmoa Primary School have got the ball rolling.

After the success of last year’s inaugural event, the EVES Open – ITF World Tennis Tour: Tauranga is returning to the sky-blue hard courts of Pāpāmoa Tennis Club from 17-23 December. Entry is free for spectators.

This is an international tournament for men and women with official ATP and WTA world ranking points up for grabs.

Professional players from Australia, the United States, Europe and Asia will be taking on some of New Zealand’s best at the Venture Developments WBOP Tennis Centre in Gordon Spratt Reserve.

Just down the road from the tennis centre, which will also play host to the New Zealand Wheelchair Tennis National Championships next week, students at Pāpāmoa Primary School got an early taste of this upcoming festival of tennis.

Brand new tennis equipment including Wilson racquets, balls and nets were donated to the school by Tennis New Zealand and EVES Real Estate.

Pāpāmoa Tennis Club head coach Peter Blow, with help from some local players, also put on introductory skills sessions to get the kids started.

“We were so grateful and blown away by all the equipment we were gifted,” Pāpāmoa Primary School Sports Coordinator Kirsten Crossan says.

“Our tamariki had loads of fun with Peter. He has such a wonderful coaching style and they learnt a lot of new skills from him.”

She says with Pāpāmoa Tennis Club being so close and accessible to the school, this opportunity could see many new young players interested in getting involved.

“Already the tennis equipment has been well used by the students. Teachers are able to pick up the tennis bag with everything in it and set up classroom games,” Crossan says.

“It has definitely sparked new interest in tennis. It's exciting to see kids picking up tennis racquets during lunch times, being active, trying something new and playing games with their friends. I've even heard of a few students who have put tennis racquets on their Christmas lists.”

Coach Peter Blow says tennis is a great sport for kids to play and the students at Pāpāmoa Primary School were already displaying many of the fundamental hand-eye coordination skills that players pick up along the way.

“The kids’ enthusiasm and behaviour was fantastic,” he says.

“We were able to connect with local kids who are already tennis club members as well as kids who have never played tennis before.”

In conjunction with the EVES Open this year, Pāpāmoa Tennis Club is hosting a school holiday tennis camp in the lead up to Christmas, for kids and teenagers aged between 5-18.

The camp will run from Monday 18 December to Thursday 21 December, from 8.30am-11.30am each day, with a minimum coach/player ratio of one to seven.

“The camp is for all player levels, from absolute beginners right through to representative juniors,” Blow says.

“They will be taught all the tennis strokes, plus tactics, and games. This will be a great way for kids that haven't played tennis before to start, as well as an awesome opportunity for youngsters who already play tennis to rub shoulders with the pros and see them train and play,” he says.

“There may even be some opportunities for the kids to hit with the pro players. Racquets and tennis gear will be provided if necessary.”

Vicki Semple, sponsorship and events manager at EVES Real Estate, says the company is “incredibly proud” to support the donation of tennis equipment to local schools as part of the EVES Open. 

“We believe in promoting physical activity and providing opportunities for young children to engage in sports,” she says.

“Also, by helping bring the EVES Open to our community, we hope to ignite interest in the sport of tennis and encourage more people to participate and enjoy the game.”

Shannon Hewetson, participation programmes manager at Tennis New Zealand, says the EVES Open school sessions are a perfect example of what can be achieved when local coaches and clubs team up with Tennis New Zealand, sponsors, and the wider community to deliver quality activities and experiences for kids.

“Seeing these students with racquets in their hands and smiles on their faces is ultimately what we’re all about.”

The EVES Open – ITF World Tennis Tour: Tauranga will be held from 17-23 December at Venture Developments WBOP Tennis Centre, Gordon Spratt Reserve, Pāpāmoa. Play will begin from 11am each day, with entry free for spectators. The event is also supported by TECT and Tauranga City Council.

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