Melbourne, 21 March 2013 | James Hunter-Smith

While the saying “good things come to those who wait” rings true in some situations, the same certainly can’t be said for Leopold Primary School in Victoria’s south.

The school was quick to sign up to the National School Partnership Program (NSPP) and the benefits – or, ‘good things’ – have come quickly.

The NSPP is a new Tennis Australia initiative which supports schools who include MLC Tennis Hot Shots (MLCTHS) into their physical education curriculum. It creates exciting opportunities for schools to embrace tennis and connect with their local community by building relationships with nearby MLCTHS coaches from local clubs.

> Learn more about the National School Partnership Program

And as primary schools regularly look for sports programs to help stimulate kids and encourage active lifestyles, those at Leopold Primary – home to 770 youngsters – say the program has ticked all boxes so far.

“The NSPP been really effective and it’s had the success we were wanting to give kids motivation to have a go at another sport,” Leopold Primary Physical Education co-coordinator Andy Hair said.

“Of our 770 kids, at this stage we’re up to about 290 who have gone on to register and claim their free goodies online, so they’re highly motivated.”

> Find out about other tennis in school programs

Hair, who introduced the NSPP to Leopold Primary, set out 208 one-hour sessions of MLCTHS over a six week block as part of the school’s PE curriculum. The program began in week three of the term.

While not being able to run each session himself, Hair said a major benefit of the program is its detailed program manual delivered to each NSPP-affiliated school. The manual outlines how each session should be conducted, from start to finish, allowing all teachers — not just qualified PE teachers — to successfully run the program.

“The manual itself is probably the best sports manual I’ve seen from any sport,” Hair said.

“I think if all major codes got on board and produced a lesson plan as good as the MLCTHS one, PE teachers would be all over it.”

Perhaps most importantly, the students at Leopold Primary have embraced the program and are beginning to develop a key interest in tennis. The MLCTHS-specific nets are regularly set up during recess and lunch, allowing the kids to play outside of the designated PE sessions.

Check out Leopold Primary School student Jake’s MLC Tennis Hot Shots video below

“The kids think it’s awesome,” Hair said.

“We actually implemented a sweatband policy which has been great. Given we’re teaching tennis I encouraged kids to wear headbands and wristbands to mop up all the sweat, and they’re coming out ready and charged up. Some of the ones the kids have found are awesome.

“But the kids have really embraced (the program) and the flow-on effect is now that once we’ve finished, parents want their kids to continue so we’re sending them off to the local clubs to enrol in their programs so they can do the term program with the specialised MLCTHS coaches.”

But it’s not only the kids who benefit from the NSPP. Under the MLCTHS rebate program, Leopold Primary receives $2 for every student who registers online. The money allows the school to purchase additional MLCTHS equipment including nets, racquets and balls.

The money raised also goes towards the school’s personalised ‘Hot Shot of the Week’ initiative, where youngsters who demonstrate great enthusiasm and sportsmanship each week win an MLCTHS racquet at assembly.

Leopold Primary is one of 120 schools in Victoria who have already signed up to the NSPP since its launch.

> Visit the MLC Tennis Hot Shots website