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Serving up the next Roger Federer

The project is going nationwide. Swiss Tennis

The Swiss Tennis Association has launched a programme to persuade more youngsters to pick up a racket – and perhaps unearth the next Roger Federer.

“Kidstennis”, which was launched on Wednesday, aims to increase the number of registered young players in Switzerland by 15 per cent over the next five years.

“This project is not simply designed to produce champions,” said Sandra Kirchhofer, from the association’s marketing team.

“Its main aim is to introduce children to tennis, get them interested in the game and playing competitively.”

The scheme, which is aimed at children aged 4-12, was launched at the National Tennis Centre in Biel in western Switzerland.

The coaching regime has been specially tailored for youngsters, who will undergo a series of tests at the end of each of the four training levels. They will also play short-court tournaments under simplified rules.

At the end of the year around 30 tournament winners will be picked to join members of the national squad for a day-long training session in Biel on December 15.

According to the tennis association, around 4,500 children are expected to enrol for the first year of kidstennis, with this figure rising to 10,000 a year by 2009.

Organisers hope that the number of registered young players will grow over the same period from the current 13,500 to 15,500.

Federer and Schnyder

The Swiss count only two of their number among the top 100 players in the world: world number one Federer and Patty Schnyder.

But Kirchhofer denies that the kidstennis programme is solely about grooming stars for the future.

“This is already in safe hands,” she told swissinfo. “Robin Roshardt, the European under-16 number one, is there to prove it.”

Roshardt, who comes from Zurich, won two International Tennis Federation (ITF) under-18 tournaments in Thailand and Malaysia in November last year.

Shortly afterwards his 15-year-old compatriot Stefanie Vögele won an ITF under-18 tournament in Kuala Lumpur.

The Swiss Tennis Association plans to stage ten kidstennis events across the country over the summer to introduce the concept to the public.

Top players, including Federer, are backing the project and some of them will take part in the end-of-year training session.

swissinfo, Raphael Donzel

The Swiss Tennis Association is launching a project to encourage more youngsters to take up the sport.

The scheme, which has been endorsed by world number one Roger Federer, is aimed at 4-12 year olds.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR