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Henman tops the bill for 24-hour tennis marathon in Roehampton

Ian Horne in Tennis News 30 Jan 2014
Henman will be in Roehampton on Monday to take part in the 24-hour tennis marathon. (Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Britain's Danny Sapsford and Stuart Rhodes will be playing a 24-hour tennis marathon in Roehampton to raise money for the Bright Ideas for Tennis charity.

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Sapsford and Rhodes will be undertaking the endurance feat at the British National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, and will be playing between 2-3 February 2014. They'll be joined throughout the event by former pros including Tim Henman, Jeremy Bates, Jamie Baker, Dan Lobb, Chris Eaton and Barry Cowan.

Money raised from the event will be donated to British tennis charity Bright Ideas for Tennis. The charity is dedicated towards increasing participation in the game, as well as improving club facilities. We spoke to former World No. 170 Sapsford to find out more about the charity and how he's preparing for the challenge ahead.

"I've done a bit of fitness work," says Sapsford, "but from what I've been told by people who have competed in endurance events, it's more mental strength rather than physical strength that is required."

"I really don't know what to expect. It's not something that you do every day so it's very hard to know how to prepare, or how your body will react. I've got a fantastic off-court team to help me through the day so I'm relatively relaxed about the whole thing."

Danny Sapsford: "Just being able to stay awake for 24hours is a challenge in itself, my eyes will become very sensitive to light.  That's where my Maui Jim's will come in handy!!"

Offering further information about the format, he adds, "We have several tennis clubs from Surrey providing the opposition throughout the challenge. Each club will be playing for four hours. At the end of each time slot, we have created a 15-minute serving challenge that will allow me to have a small rest and take in some nutrients. Apart from this we will be playing straight through."

With the proceeds going to Bright Ideas for Tennis, it's hoped that fundraisers such as this can help to inspire more people to pick up a tennis racquet and head to their local court:

"Bright Ideas for Tennis is a relatively new charity, but they have some really innovative ideas," says Sapsford. "Using ex-Davis Cup pros to provide the inspiration and fundraising opportunities, all monies raised provide free 'legacy coaching' in the community. They really do appear to cover all aspects of getting more people playing more tennis - attracting new players, inspiring existing players, improving club facilities and making it affordable."

With British tennis enjoying a resurgence at the top level thanks to the success of Andy Murray and the Davis Cup team, amongst others, many fans are hoping that the nation can continue to produce players of the highest calibre. Sapsford believes that investment in the grass roots of the game could help to encourage further British success.

"Helping to provide more tennis opportunities in schools would be a start," he says. "But this wouldn't work as a stand-alone investment. There must be a clear pathway for these new players to continue playing the game, whether it be at a local park, or tennis club. Schools, parks and clubs need to work more closely together."

However, Sapsford points out a very obvious problem that has perhaps held back tennis development in Britain. "The weather!" he jokes when asked to identify the biggest challenge facing the British game. "No seriously, I think it is simply competition with other sports," he adds. "Kids nowadays have so many options. If we can encourage more people to play the sport, it is inevitable that the overall standard will rise."

Entrance to the event, which is being sponsored by sunglass maker Maui Jim, will be completely free of charge.

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Henman tops the bill for 24-hour tennis marathon in Roehampton

Britain's Danny Sapsford and Stuart Rhodes will be playing a 24-hour tennis marathon in Roehampton to raise money for the Bright Ideas for Tennis charity.

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