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The United States embassy is continuing to play its part in developing Barbados’ next tennis star. It hosted a mini tennis tournament at the National Tennis Centre, Wildey, yesterday for 60 students of the Luther Thorne, Blackman Gollop and Grantley Prescod Primary schools. The seven and eight-year-olds are participants in a youth tennis programme which the embassy has been supporting in collaboration with the Barbados Tennis Association (BTA), the Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) and the National Sports Council (NSC). At the official launch, US Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Larry Palmer told the students that once they practised regularly and played to the best of their abilities, there was no reason they could not be tennis’s next big superstar. “I am so excited because today I get to see you play and I get to see Barbados’ future tennis stars,” Palmer said. “If you listen to your coaches and you practise and you play hard, then you too, can become just as good and just as famous as Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Pete Sampras, Andy Murray or Rafael Nadal.” He also told them that tennis would provide valuable exercise which was important for them at their young ages. President of the BTA, Dr Raymond Forde, noted that as part of the developmental process, the children would be playing on appropriate sized courts with either red, yellow or green balls. He said the use of smaller courts and slower balls would help players to develop more efficient techniques while also allowing the implementation of advanced tactics which could not be performed using regular yellow balls or a standard sized court. The programme, launched in April, provides weekly lessons from the island’s best instructors for students from primary schools in underserved areas, including two from the embassy’s immediate Pine and Wildey neighbourhood. It started during the final term of the 2011-2012 year and has been funded by the embassy for the entire 2012-2013 academic year as well.