Let’s forget our World Cup woes as Wimbledon and Murraymania starts today

Juan, six, and Mateo Davila-Smith, three, getting in some practice at the Great British tennis weekend at Eaton Park in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith. Juan, six, and Mateo Davila-Smith, three, getting in some practice at the Great British tennis weekend at Eaton Park in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith.

Monday, June 23, 2014
12:38 PM

England might be out of the World Cup, but have no fear - Wimbledon is here!

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Andy Murray during a break in his practice session with coach Amelie Mauresmo, Wimbledon. Photo: John Walton/PA Wire.Andy Murray during a break in his practice session with coach Amelie Mauresmo, Wimbledon. Photo: John Walton/PA Wire.

British ace Andy Murray is attempting to defend the historic title he won last year and inspiring a new generation of future stars in Norfolk at the same time.

Youngsters enjoyed making a racket in Norwich as part of a Great British Tennis Weekend designed to get children and their families playing the game on the eve of the world’s greatest tennis tournament.

Families descended on Eaton Park where they were given the chance to pick up a racket and balls before taking to the court for some free tennis action.

On Saturday and yesterday people across the country, including visitors to Eaton Park, had the chance to take part in a number of on court activities, including Cardio Tennis, Mini Tennis, disability tennis and tennis coaching, as part of the LTA and Tennis Foundation’s drive to get more people playing more often.

Wimbledon facts

Aces – (most of all time) Men: Goran Ivanisevic served 212 in 2001. Women: Alexandra Stevenson served 57 in 1999, and so did Serena Williams in 2008.

Attendance in 2013: Total attendance for the 13 days of The Championships - 486,898.

Balls: 54,250 used during The Championships period. Stored at 68 deg F. New balls after first seven games (to allow for warm-up), then after every nine games. Yellow balls used for first time in 1986.

Broadcast Figures 2013: Peak UK audience of 17.3m tuned in to watch Andy Murray defeat Novak Djokovic.

Capacity (grounds): 38,500 spectators in the grounds at any one time.

Centre Court: 15,000 seats or 290 million tennis balls could fit into the arena with roof closed.

Centre Court roof: Eight litres per second of fresh air per person pumped into the bowl to manage the environment

Courts (grass): 41 in total.

Grass: Championships playing height 8mm. Court grass composed of 100% rye grass (changed from 70% rye/30% red fescue in Sept 2000 for better wear and tear properties).

Luciana Davila-Smith, 43, from Bunwell, came to Eaton Park with her husband Martin, 41, and children Juan, six, and Mateo, three, after finding out about the event being run in conjunction with EA Tennis.

She said: “I think it’s great. Juan is quite keen to start playing tennis and is quite sporty so we struggle to find time to do it. He plays in the garden but its not the same and here he can actually extend himself without worrying about the greenhouse.”

Juan, who admitted he would one day like to play at Wimbledon like Andy Murray, said it was “nice” to be able to come and play on court with his family.

Other youngsters enjoying the chance to play were six-year-old Rebecca Burrows, who was playing her first ever game of tennis, and her three-year-old brother Luke who had come from Rackheath with father Keith and mother Melanie.

Mr Burrows, 51, said it was an excellent initiative. He said: “Anything to get people out in the fresh air on a day like today...I think its a tremendous idea, I really do.”

Chris Evans, tennis manager for the site on behalf of EA Tennis, said the scheme was about “making it more accessible to the community” and get people playing the game.

For more information visit www.greatbritishtennisweekend.com

How to enjoy Wimbledon:

• With punnets of Norfolk grown-strawberries at the ready people can forget about the failings of the national football team by sitting back and enjoying two weeks of scintillating tennis action from SW1 starting today.

• Andy Murray, who last year became the first British man to win the Wimbledon title in 77 years, starts the defence of his title against Belgian David Goffin on Centre Court at 1pm.

• The match will be screened live by the BBC whose coverage of the championships starts at 11.30am on BBC Two with tennis also being shown on BBC One from 1.45pm.

• Live matches will be shown on BBC One, BBC One HD, BBC Two, BBC Two HD and the BBC Sport website throughout the tournament with anyone who has missed matches during the day able to catch up by tuning into Today at Wimbledon, on BBC Two, each night from 8pm.

• If anyone missed the Murray’s moment of magic last year they can remind themselves of how the Scot made history by tuning into When Andy Won Wimbledon from 10.35pm tonight on BBC One.

• Murray is second favourite for the crown this year with William Hill quoting odds of 3-1 of winning the title.

• Serbia’s ace Novak Djokovic, who faces Andrey Golubev today, is favourite to avenge last year’s final defeat and is the 7-4 favourite with the bookies to bounce back to become the 2014 Wimbledon Champion.

• After victory at Roland Garros in the French Open, Rafael Nadal is next in the betting at 9-2, although the two-time Wimbledon winner hasn’t won the competition since 2010.

• Murray, 27, has been drawn in the opposite half to world number one Rafael Nadal, meaning they could not meet before the final.

• Djokovic, the man Murray beat in last year’s final, could be a semi-final opponent this time, while Spain’s David Ferrer or Queen’s Club champion Grigor Dimitrov are among those potentially waiting in the quarter-finals.

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