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Tennis aims to serve up interest

Tuesday 2 April 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Sports, Tennis

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Tennis aims to serve up interest
Gilles De Gouy, head of Tennis Pacific Islands, with Cook Islands national tennis coach Malcolm Kajer and future tennis stars of Apii Avarua. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/24032889

As a pathway to increasing the interest of tennis among the younger generation, Tennis Cook Islands, through the support of ANZ Bank, has been hosting school programmes for primary school students in Rarotonga.

Last Thursday, grade two to grade five students of Apii Avarua participated in a special tennis training session with Tennis Cook Islands head coach Malcolm Kajer and Gilles De Gouy, head of Tennis Pacific Islands.

Kajer says the Junior Tennis Initiative Programme is a joint programme by the Australian Open Pacific Pathway (AOTP) and the International Tennis Federation (JTI), with ANZ as the major sponsor.

He said this term they have been hosting programmes for Apii Avarua and Apii Nikao schools, and in the third term, they will focus on the remaining schools.

“We’ve had about 100 kids from both schools actually participating in this,” Kajer said. “We’ve had ANZ programmes here for the last 25 years, and it used to target schools around the Pacific, but now it focuses on schools here.”

He added that the turnout in the number of students attending the programme has been excellent and they thoroughly enjoy it.

Kajer explained that in the past, they have successfully gained national players from this programme, and they have been able to develop players through it.

“We’ll probably get about maybe 20-30 per cent out of all the schools that will end up joining the programme,” he said.

“We have had some good years, where a lot of the kids come, and all starting from this programme, tackling it in the schools, and they all end up at the National Tennis Programme at Black Rock.”

Kajer acknowledged ANZ Bank for their help in keeping tennis alive in the community for the past 25 years, alongside the funding they receive from the Australian Open Pacific Pathway and the Junior Tennis Initiative provided by the International Tennis Federation.

Gilles De Gouy, head of Tennis Pacific Islands, says that like any sport, tennis needs to start from somewhere, so they have started with the perfect age group, initiating pathways for future players.