Manchester’s tennis community is set to benefit from an announcement by The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) of the biggest ever grassroots investment in the sport. The Transforming British Tennis Together initiative aims to make courts across the country more useable and accessible to everyone over the next ten years.
The £250m transformation of Britain’s tennis courts comes at a time of huge momentum in elite British tennis and unprecedented levels of interest and pride in the sport, which together have inspired many more people to pick up a racket.
The LTA has committed to investing £125 million to improve community tennis facilities across the country, and plans to unlock a further £125 million through match funding from community networks with a shared vision for growing the game. Now, the organisation is encouraging communities across the country to work together on strong, joined up bids which will enable them to bring tennis to a wider audience.
The funding will ensure that some of the key barriers to playing tennis are overcome. Currently, out of the 171 tennis courts throughout Greater Manchester, only 5% are covered, and only 27% are floodlit. Furthermore, booking and gaining access to a court too often relies on old, analogue systems, making it difficult to organise a game.
Transforming British Tennis Together will see the LTA work in partnership with local communities in Greater Manchester to:
· Double the number of covered and floodlit courts to increase available playing hours when it’s raining and when the sun has gone down;
· Install online booking and entry systems so everyone can book a tennis court easily from their mobile phone, computer or tablet;
"There has never been a better time for tennis to increase its number of participants and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform our local tennis facilities & get more people playing"
Paul Bennet, LTA Head of Region for North
· Refurbish courts, clubhouses and other social spaces to ensure players have a great experience every time they visit;
· Support other innovative and creative ideas that meet local demand.
By working with communities across Britain with a real passion for tennis, the LTA aims to deliver 1,500 newly covered indoor courts, over 8,000 newly floodlit courts and nearly 3,000 court entry systems across the country over the next decade. At present, only a handful of courts in Manchester (4%) have online booking and access systems.
Details of the initiative were revealed at Fletcher Moss Gardens in Didsbury Park, which recently benefited from improvements funded by the LTA, Manchester City Council and Sport England. The improvements, which included 4 new park courts with floodlights and access system with clear plan around long term sustainability for the site, are part of a £1m investment in the area, which has already led to a collective membership increase of 5%.
Paul Bennet, LTA Head of Region for North said: “This is an amazing and transformational opportunity for tennis in Manchester. More and more people are enjoying the sport and there is a real appetite for the improvement and regeneration of local courts.
“There has never been a better time for tennis to increase its number of participants and this investment from the LTA plus further support from partner organisations is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform our local tennis facilities and get more people playing.”
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, the Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, said: “It’s wonderful to see so many young people here playing tennis. We consulted the community and people in Manchester told us that they care about their leisure facilities. The investment here will help more people, at any level, play more tennis.”
The LTA is now calling on tennis clubs, parks, local government, volunteers, coaches and businesses across Manchester and the northwest to come together and register their interest in bidding for the funds to transform their local tennis courts. For more information visit www.lta.org.uk/TBTT
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