By Duncan Mackay

Learning disability tennisFebruary 7 - Free coaching and a new London-wide competition are being launched to enable the growth of tennis for disabled people in the capital in a bid to try to build on the momentum of last year's Paralympics. 

The new scheme is being run by he London Youth Games and the Tennis Foundation, who have joined forces to expand sporting opportunities for hundreds of disabled young Londoners this year.

For the first time ever, the Balfour Beatty London Youth Games will host learning disability tennis as an official competition in 2013, following a pilot demonstration event last year.

The event will see 16 London Boroughs represented at the learning disability tennis competition at Westway Sports Centre near Kensington on March 12 with competitors of mild and severe learning disabilities eligible to take part.

In the lead up to the inaugural event, nine schools have also taken advantage of free weekly coaching sessions for young competitors funded by the Tennis Foundation, in partnership with the Lawn Tennis Association.

Paul Williams, Schools Tennis Manager, Tennis Foundation said: "Over the last two years, the Tennis Foundation has supported over 600 Special Schools across Great Britain with free inclusive training, resources and equipment, aimed to empower teachers to deliver tennis effectively in Special Schools and for disabled young people in mainstream education .

"We are delighted to be able to continue to develop our partnership with the London Youth Games Foundation and create new opportunities for disabled young people to be able to experience competitive tennis.

"The response from schools right across London highlights the momentum gained from the success of ParalympicsGB last summer and we wish all 16 teams the very best of luck."

London Youth Games 2013The London Youth Games was launched to mark the Silver Jubilee of the Queen in 1977 and now has more than 7,000 competitors

Anthony Kendall, the chariman of London Youth Games, added: "We have long been known as a mini-Olympics among young Londoners, but it is now time we were also known as being a mini-Paralympics too.

"The addition of Learning Disability Tennis to the London Youth Games brings the number of sports we offer to disabled young Londoners to eight. It is so important that after a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games we cater for the fresh enthusiasm among young people and provide them with the opportunities to take part in competitive sport.

"We have enjoyed a really fruitful relationship with the Tennis Foundation in developing tennis for primary aged young people in recent years.

"We were delighted to collaborate on this new project for disabled secondary aged youngsters and further expand our disability sport programme, which already includes nearly 5,000 participants.

"We are always interested in creating and developing sporting opportunities for young Londoners, particularly when there is such potential for growth.

"With half of London Boroughs set to take part in the first ever Learning Disability Tennis competition, we are providing that crucial first rung on the competition pathway for hundreds of young Londoners."

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