The tireless work by a revolutionary disability tennis program in Cheshire has been recognized with a prestigious LTA Tennis Award for the second time.
Run by Sue Morrison and Louise Assioun LUSU was founded six years ago to provide activity-related products and training programs for those who work with people with disabilities.
The program started 2021 by sending activity videos to families with disabled children during lockdown, and later in the year successfully transferred back to in-person programs and sessions.
The scheme was announced as the winner by Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth at a live-streamed awards ceremony presented by LTA President David Rawlinson and hosted by the LTA’s Head of Men’s Tennis Leon Smith.
“If you were living next door to me, you would have heard me screaming,” Morrison said. “Because it was a massive surprise to win for the second time because what’s out there now is unbelievable.
“More and more clubs are making tennis inclusive so we are really chuffed to have won it again. A lot of people are doing some good out there now and that’s great, that’s what we wanted.
“It’s a lot of work we’ve done, especially during lockdown, working with families doing ‘Zoom in the Room’.
“Hearing nice stories that young children have lost weight, that they’ve dropped their medication, that they are sleeping better. They are going from doing those tennis activities at home to then taking it into school.
“And now these young children are joining our tennis coaching programme, so it’s a fantastic journey, good has come out of lockdown.
“A lot of parents when we started this journey, they didn’t even think their children would join us on Zoom in the Room and they’re now being involved in a sport after school.”
The LTA Tennis Awards are now in their seventh year and celebrate the achievements and contributions of outstanding tennis volunteers, coaches, officials, venues and players across the country.
Morrison, Assioun and LUSU were hand-picked as one of 17 national winners recognized at the awards ceremony on Thursday, which honored individuals involved in tennis at grassroots, county, regional and national level.
Nominations were drawn from over 25,000 volunteers, nearly 5,000 coaches and 1,000 officials, 22,000 schools, nearly 3,000 clubs and over 9,000 LTA approved tournaments, with the scheme recognized for its work in building the confidence of participants.
LUSU continued to work with those who were unable to transition out of lockdown life easily, while providing a number of sessions for people at local church halls, parks and playgrounds.
Morrisson, from Stockport, and Assioun met working as tennis coaches and went from bouncing tennis balls to bouncing ideas off each other and ultimately creating LUSU.
She added: “We built this business six years ago, we started creating equipment because there wasn’t equipment out there that would work for children with complex needs.
“We started working on sensory tennis and are working with the charity Sense on sensory tennis and that’s for children with more than one disability to allow them to play tennis.
“Our proudest achievement is making someone enjoy the sport and happy to attend the sport, those are our favorite stories when families have gone from nothing to playing tennis.”
The quality and quantity of the nominations demonstrate outstanding work that has been done in tennis throughout the last year and David Rawlinson, LTA President, said: “The LTA Tennis Awards are a real celebration of the people that make our sport thrive.
“They acknowledge the achievements made by outstanding volunteers, coaches, officials, venues and players, who are all vital in helping us to grow the game.
“The outstanding contributions the nominees have made to the sport and to their communities have been tremendously uplifting and I would like to thank them for their fantastic work.”
To find out more information about the LTA Tennis Awards or for information on how to play, coach, volunteer or officiate in tennis, head to https://www.lta.org.uk/