Pupils lap up dis­abil­ity ten­nis tips from Rio par­a­lympian

Harefield Gazette - - SPORT - By tim.street@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

GOR­DON Bartlett is look­ing for­ward to see­ing David Hunt and Sam Cox de­velop as his cen­tral mid­field at Weald­stone.

For­mer Hayes & Yead­ing man Cox joined from Bore­ham Wood in the sum­mer, along with Hunt, who played pro­fes­sion­ally and spent last sea­son with Mar­gate.

In­juries and other fac­tors have re­stricted the pair’s ap­pear­ances for the Stones and Satur­day’s 4-1 home de­feat to East­bourne Bor­ough was only the se­cond time PAR­A­LYMPIC medal­list Andy Lapthorne gave some win­ning tips to pri­mary school chil­dren at a dis­abil­ity ten­nis fes­ti­val at Lee Val­ley Hockey and Ten­nis Cen­tre on Fri­day.

East­cote res­i­dent Lapthorne, who suf­fers from cere­bral palsy, met 90 chil­dren with a range of im­pair­ments from autism to deaf­ness. The pupils were from 12 Lon­don and Hert­ford­shire schools and Lapthorne passed on tech­ni­cal hints at the legacy man­ager Bartlett has been able to field them to­gether.

He said: “We signed Cox and Hunt as two play­ers we felt we could build our mid­field around but be­fore the week­end they had played to­gether just once. Both have had in­juries and Cox has had in­ter­na­tional duty and Hunt has had sus­pen­sions.

“It’s no co­in­ci­dence that the only pre­vi­ous time they played to­gether, we beat Gosport 3-1. It’s good to have them back to­gether in there, and I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing how they do in the mid­dle of the park.

“El­liott God­frey has been fill­ing the gap in the mid­dle. He may have been a striker in his younger venue, pur­pose-built for the 2012 Par­a­lympic Games.

There was also time to talk about Rio 2016, where he won sil­ver and bronze medals.

“This has been a great ex­pe­ri­ence, be­ing able to con­nect with such young pupils, all keen to learn about my own ex­pe­ri­ences in the sport and will­ing to have a go at play­ing ten­nis to the best of their abil­ity,” said Lapthorne.

“It is great that they have this days, but El­liott is such a model pro that he can adapt to any­thing, and you can rely on him to do the right thing.

“He fills all the gaps for us and is mas­sively in­flu­en­tial too.”

Bartlett has also wel­comed de­fender Tom Ham­blin back from in­jury, the cen­tre-back lasting an hour of last Wed­nes­day’s 3-2 county cup win at Bed­font Sports.

He was also able to field Ciaron Brown against Eat­bourne, af­ter ill­ness, and Wes Parker con­tin­ues to solider on at the back, de­spite not be­ing 100 per cent.

Tom Cad­more has just gone un­der the knife, and Jack Smith is not ex­pected to be back in ac­tion un­til the end of the month. op­por­tu­nity to won­der­ful sport.”

The fes­ti­val saw stu­dents guided to try four dif­fer­ent ten­nis-themed ac­tiv­i­ties across the cen­tre’s in­door courts, each adapted to meet in­di­vid­ual play­ers’ needs, while chal­leng­ing their skills.

Jack Pringle, sports devel­op­ment of­fi­cer at Lee Val­ley re­gional author­ity said: “This is our third Dis­abil­ity Ten­nis Fes­ti­val and has been a huge try out this

The turn­ing point in Satur­day’s de­feat to East­bourne was a straight red for striker El­liott Benyon just af­ter the hour mark, at which point the match was all­square at a goal apiece, the hosts hav­ing taken a first-half lead through Johnny Wright.

The Stones will ap­peal Benyon’s send­ing off – for an al­leged foul on vis­it­ing keeper Char­lie Hor­lock – and sub­se­quent three­match ban, and have video ev­i­dence to back up their claim.

If cleared, Benyon will be avail­able for Satur­day’s trip to Hunger­ford Town. He was also avail­able for Mon­day night’s 1-0 de­feat at home to Bath City as the ban had not kicked in. suc­cess with teach­ers and pupils alike. We are de­lighted that Andy Lapthorne could come and talk to the pupils and give them some valu­able in­sights into his own in­volve­ment in the game.

“I am sure he has been an in­spi­ra­tion to these very young stu­dents in their in­tro­duc­tion to the sport. To­day is part of our ex­ten­sive ac­tiv­ity pro­gramme for the whole re­gion, part of Lee Val­ley’s sus­tain­able legacy from the Lon­don 2012 Games.”

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