In a short film released this week, the LTA follows 38-year-old tennis player Steven McCann from North London, as he shares his inspirational story of battling addiction to reignite his love and passion for the sport.
The feature brings to life Steven’s journey to recovery, from severe addiction and mental health issues throughout his 20s and 30s, to turning his life around following his decision to go teetotal.
I suffered with addiction issues in my 20s and most of my 30s. It got pretty bad and I wasn’t living my life very well or enjoying it, frankly. I made the decision to turn my life around. Steven McCann
During this period, the former Lovesport Radio Presenter also engaged in charity work within his community and revisited aspects of his life that had slipped away, including tennis.
Once he’d got back on court, he quickly got involved with Local Tennis Leagues – the LTA programme offering friendly, competitive tennis in communities across the UK – at his nearby park courts in Highbury.
In the film, Steven highlights the role that tennis and sport has had in helping to improve his mental health.
“I suffered with addiction issues in my 20s and most of my 30s. It got pretty bad and I wasn’t living my life very well or enjoying it, frankly. I made the decision to turn my life around.
“I had so many hurdles in my mind to not get on a tennis court again. I don’t have the right shoes, I’m too old, and there aren’t any people that I know. All these things gave me many different obstacles but in the end all I had to do was turn up and walk on court.
“What tennis has given me is an opportunity to do something for myself. It has given me confidence, a new group of friends and it makes me feel like I’m active again.”
With the support of his partner Elle and his friend and tennis coach Alex, who also feature in the film, Steven now plays multiple times a week, competing regularly in Local Tennis Leagues.
Having supported the programme for a number of years, the LTA acquired Local Tennis Leagues earlier this year as part of its strategy to open up tennis and grow the game in public park courts. The national governing body hopes to take the programme to more park sites across Britain and create mass participation in grassroots competitive tennis. Since 2005, over 20,000 people have played across an expansive network of Local Tennis Leagues in the UK.
The acquisition of Local Tennis Leagues and the strategic drive to grow participation in tennis across park courts, go hand-in-hand with the Play Your Way campaign, launched by the LTA earlier this summer to remind people how accessible the sport is.
To find out more about Local Tennis Leagues and sign up to a league near you, visit www.localtennisleagues.com.