Emma Raducanu’s remarkable journey can inspire participation boom for tennis

Emma Raducanu’s uplifting run to the final of the US Open is a glorious opportunity to grow the game, according to one of the Lawn Tennis Association’s regional managers.

Great Britain's Emma Raducanu celebrates defeating Greece's Maria Sakkari to reach the Women's Final (Picture: PA)

Gavin Sutcliffe, who works in Yorkshire as part of his role as Participation Development Partner for the LTA North Region, believes the 18-year-old’s stunning achievement in becoming the first qualifier to reach a Grand Slam final can be a huge moment for participation in tennis.

“This is a good news story for tennis because it transcends the sport,” said Sutcliffe, in the wake of Raducanu’s crushing semi-final win over Maria Sakkari at Flushing Meadows in New York.

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“We’re always trying to create interest in tennis beyond the two weeks of Wimbledon and Raducanu is helping us do that.

Emma Raducanu, of Great Britain, reacts after scoring a point against Maria Sakkari, of Greece (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

“Usually in the height of summer we’re battling the Euros, the Olympics and other sporting events, but right now Emma is dominating the news cycle and that’s fantastic.”

Tennis has already experienced an upturn in participation since the first coronavirus lockdown, and the portents are strong that Raducanu’s rise can precipitate a further increase.

“Since last March we’ve seen an eight per cent increase in people picking up a racket and playing tennis on an outdoor court,” said Sutcliffe.

“Unfortunately the same can’t be said for indoor because of greater restrictions, but for outdoor tennis we have seen the positive numbers from last year continuing into this. And this could be just the beginning for Emma. She’s a marketable star, an approachable person and she will appeal to a lot of young people.”

Emma Raducanu, of Great Britain, reacts after scoring a point against Maria Sakkari, of Greece, during the semifinals of the US Open tennis championships. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Raducanu is the first British woman to reach the final at Flushing Meadows since Virginia Wade won the title 53 years ago.