ANDY Murray may have played his last game of tennis but the sport is proving to be more popular than ever in Warrington.

While Murray won Wimbledon twice, became world number one and twice Olympic champion, figures showed the number of people playing the game regularly in the UK during his years at the top has dropped.

However Warrington is bucking the trend.

Over the past year, attendance at LiveWire’s coach-supervised weekly sessions are up 150 per cent over the past year.

And a number of young players are competing regularly at regional and national level.

Alexandra Day is tennis development manager working in primary schools as well as in programmes at the indoor centre in Birchwood as well as Broomfields in Appleton, Culcheth and the new hub in Great Sankey.

She said as well as encouraging young talent, the programme is also simply about encouraging people to pick up a racket.

“We have a series of academy squads at the top end with aspiring players aged 12 and over competing at county and regional levels and training multiple times per week,” she said.

“Just as importantly we have a very appealing Advantage offer for both children and adults that gives you access to all LiveWire outdoor tennis courts at any time plus a two hour coach supervised session every week.

“These run at Birchwood on a Sunday from 4pm to 6pm or Great Sankey on a Monday from 5pm to 7pm and are a great way to in to the sport for as little at £8.50 per month.”

Among those excelling is eight-year-old Ved Kshirsagar.

The Birchwood youngster joined the programme in 2017 and has been selected to train with the county squad.

He said: “I love tennis, I play it everywhere. My favourite shot is the backhand. I am only as tall as a tennis net but I am getting better at my serve and forehand. Most importantly I can now win points against my dad.”

His dad Tushar said: “Ved is very competitive and within a year he has progressed to one of the performance groups.Thanks to all the Livewire Birchwood coaches for their guidance and encouragement.”

Community coaches will be delivering a series of free tasters at schools across the borough in the coming weeks.

And children eight and under are invited to a free coaching session at Birchwood this Sunday from 12pm until 1.30pm.

  •  For more or to book email or call 458130.

Alexandra added: “Our current programme model allows us to cater for players of all ages and abilities at some of the most reasonable prices in the region.

“There is defiantly a market out there for families who want to play tennis casually and by catering for multiple age groups at the same time this allows us to do this very effectively.

“We also have a series of coaching memberships that fall in the middle section of our coaching programme model designed to cater to all your tennis playing needs.

“Whether you’re a child that has never picked up a racket before or and adult looking to get back into the sport we are here to help you develop your game.”