Forty local primary school children were given an extra special tennis lesson last week when former Wimbledon champion, Richard Krajicek, spent the morning coaching members of the ABN AMRO Les Mielles Schools Tennis Programme.

In 1996 Richard Krajicek won the men's singles title at Wimbledon, the only Dutch player to have ever done so. Having retired from the professional game, Richard is now busy as tournament director for the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. As well as being ABN AMRO’s ambassador for tennis, he is also instrumental in setting up nearly seventy-five sports playgrounds in inner cities throughout the Netherlands, through his own Foundation.

This is the second visit the Dutch tennis star has made to the island, both trips being sponsored by ABN AMRO Bank N.V. Jersey Branch. While he was here, Richard explained why he feels the promotion of sport amongst youngsters is so important, “I think creating awareness of tennis is important but developing sports in communities is good for lots of reasons. It is very good for you physically and helps fight obesity. It also helps children to concentrate better while they are at school. Sports facilities are a great meeting point and are good for social strengths for communities generally.”

Les Mielles Tennis Club Chairman, Emily Roxburgh, was delighted ABN AMRO Bank N.V. Jersey Branch was able to bring their tennis ambassador back to the island. She said, “The children who met him last year were so excited to see him again this year. Richard’s visit was like the icing on the cake for them – a reward for all those who have turned up for the tennis programme, week after week, practicing hard.”

Jacqueline Bell-Cook, Head Teacher of La Moye Primary School, described the benefits of the schools’ tennis programme, “It has allowed a wide range of young children their first experience of tennis. The coaching is outstanding and the children are ‘hooked’ into the experience by it. Many of my pupils took the opportunity to attend the inspirational coaching session, offered by Richard Krajicek, which they will remember and aspire to for a long time.”

Les Quennevais School’s Head Teacher, John Thorp, said “The striking thing is that over the last couple of years I have noticed how many students have been coming through, showing real ability and enthusiasm in tennis. This is clearly a result of the programme run by Les Mielles Tennis Club and ABN AMRO Bank N.V. Jersey Branch.

A Wimbledon winner is a Wimbledon winner, and no one who is interested in tennis isn’t interested in meeting someone like Richard. I had some very excited students, who were enthused about the prospect of playing with one of the legends of the game.”

Phil Harvey, Head of Corporate and Treasury Services at ABN AMRO Bank N.V. Jersey Branch, explained why the bank had decided to repeat last year’s successful event, “ABN AMRO supports local organisations in lots of different ways. It was felt that this particular event was the perfect way to further promote the game of tennis among Jersey school children and as Richard is an ambassador for the bank, it was the perfect fit.

“We’ve received lots of positive comments about the Schools Tennis Programme and we are delighted so many children were able to participate in a thoroughly enjoyable day.”