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Six Vincentian children were on Thursday given the opportunity to rub elbows with one of England’s greatest tennis players, Jeremy Bates.{{more}}

The youngsters were present at the Harlequin Buccament Bay Resort on Thursday, February 17, as part of a one-day training session with Bates at the Pat Cash Tennis Academy.

Bates is a former professional tennis player who has won two Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. Partnering with fellow Britain Jo Drurie, he won the mixed doubles titles at Wimbledon in 1987, the first British doubles team to win the title for 51 years, and the Australian Open in 1991, the first time a British doubles team won the title.

As a singles player, he was the first ever opponent of Andre Agassi in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, in the first round of the U.S Open in 1986, winning in four sets.

Bates won one top-level singles title during his career – at Seoul in 1994, at age 31. He also won three men’s doubles titles at Tel Aviv (1989), Queen’s Club (1990), and Rotterdam (1994). He was the British national champion six times, and played in 20 Davis Cup ties for Britain. His career-high rankings were World No. 54 in singles, in 1995, and No. 25 in doubles, in 1991.

He was ranked British No 1 in Great Britain between 1988 and 1995.

Bates has also beaten the likes of tennis legends, Peter Sampras and Boris Becker. Upon his retirement in 1996, Bates served a four-year stint as Great Britain’s Davis Cup coach (2000-2003). A one-time Manager of Men’s National Training, he resigned as the LTA’s Head of Performance in January 2007. Since August 2007, he has worked as Director of Tennis at the Sutton Junior Tennis Centre.

On Thursday, Bates noted that the youngsters showed exceptional talent on the court and have the potential to develop into good tennis players.

“You never know how good they are going to be, but what is important is that they enjoy themselves,” Bates said.

Bates noted that such experiences for the children will only help to improve their skills and give them something to remember. It is hoped that the children will continue to get better, but he also noted that it is important for them to live healthy lifestyles.

The children were taught some of the basic tennis skills and various drills.

Public Relations Director of Harlequin Cathy Brennan said they at Harlequin believe that it is very important to partner with the local community and help to develop young talent.

Brennan said she wanted children to use the facilities at Buccament with a professional, such as Bates. She added that they are looking at running the programme on a long-term basis for schools around the country.(KW)