BUDDING Andy Murrays and Laura Robsons will be nurtured in the Vale thanks to a local tennis coach and the backing of the area’s businesses.

Vale Tennis Academy director Rob Cunningham has welcomed business backing which will help breed stars of the future as well as encouraging youngsters to get active and enjoy the sport.

And Rob, who is also the head coach at Barry Athletic Tennis Club, Barry Island, is urging businesses who may be interesting in sponsoring the local talent, to consider lobbing some funds their way.

Sponsors helping to inspire a generation, so far, include Marco’s Cafe, Barry Island, and Penarth-based A C J Properties, and the Waterloo Tearooms based in the Washington Gallery, also Penarth.

Sponsors get their name engraved on a cup and also help contribute to medals won by the young tennis stars.

Thirty-four-year-old Rob, better known a Rob the coach to the tennis protégés, said the tennis academy operated in Barry, Penarth, Cowbridge, and at the Vale Resort and he had been coaching since 1999.

He said: “In 2008 we started working with Barry Athletic and the programme just grew from there.

“Our aim is to get people playing, offer more access and try to raise awareness of tennis in the Vale of Glamorgan.”

Rob and his team of coaches and helpers have started a Vale Winter Club League for a sport traditionally seen as a summer-only activity in the UK. They cater for both boys and girls in under 8 and under 16 age categories.

The Winter League Cup runs from October to the end of February.

Rob said: “It’s a way of keeping kids playing in what can be an elitist sport. We wanted something that was fun and good for new players.”

There is also a Summer League Cup – also in need of sponsors.

Rob said: “It’s about enjoying competition. There is a winner and loser, but they can have fun. “

He said local schools were welcome to make contact to see how they could encourage the children into the sport with teachers offered the chance to train, for free, as coaches and gain a £500 kit for their school as part of a Tennis Foundation programme.

Barry Island cafe owner, Marco Zeraschi – one of the sponsors already on board – said: “As a family we have been affiliated to Barry Athletic Club since the Sixties. Anything to promote local sport and especially anything to do with Barry Island, on our doorstep, we are a pro-active centre.”

If you would like to offer sponsorship or get involved, call Rob on 07909 987359. Alternatively, email info@valetennisacademy.co.uk or visit www.valetennisacademy.co.uk