Boost for tennis in Bristol as £250m national investment is launched

July 31 2017

Bristol is set to benefit as the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) launches the biggest UK investment programme the sport has ever seen to transform grassroots tennis over the next ten years.

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Bristol is set to benefit as the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) launches the biggest UK investment programme the sport has ever seen to transform grassroots tennis over the next ten years.

The Transforming British Tennis Together initiative will focus on making courts easier to book, accessible to all and ensure that rain and darkness no longer stop play.

Schoolchildren from Cotham School and children on the University of Bristol Performance Programme regularly use the courts at the Coombe Dingle Sports Complex and joined joined Simon Johnson of the LTA and Matt Birch of the University of Bristol to announce a £125 million investment into growing tennis participation.

Communities in Westbury-on-Trym, Henleaze and across the city are encouraged to register their interest to receive funding for their tennis courts.

Transformation

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.

According to the LTA just 9.1 per cent people in Bristol play tennis despite 21.4 per cent of the local community showing an interest in the sport. Improving facilities and making them more accessible and usable is seen as key to meeting that demand and increasing participation.

Transforming British Tennis Together will see the LTA work in partnership with local communities in Bristol and the South West to double the number of covered and floodlit courts, install online booking and entry systems so everyone can book a tennis court easily from their mobile phone or tablet, refurbish courts, clubhouses and other social spaces and support other innovative and creative ideas that meet local demand.

Matt Birch, Director of Sport, Exercise and Health at the University of Bristol, said: "There couldn't be a better time for the LTA to announce this investment, with University of Bristol Tennis on a mission to transform its tennis offer for students, staff and the wider community.

“We aim to create a welcoming facility at the Coombe Dingle Sports Complex for the people of Bristol and surrounding areas, with 300 new places available for children and adults in the autumn, and the LTA's ground-breaking 'Transforming British Tennis Together' initiative will enable us to continue to grow and improve.

“About four million pounds has been spent on the facilities here in the last year, primarily on outdoor synthetic surfaces. We want to increase the usage and quality of our courts so that we can get more people playing on them regularly. The University of Bristol tennis programme from September is keen to engage the local community and particularly, to engage school age children. The quality of the coaching and facility that we have here can rival anywhere in the country.”

Andy Trott has been appointed a Director of Tennis at Coombe Dingle and his role is to engage the local community, as well as staff and students. From the start of the summer there will be a whole new range of summer camps for kids as well as a new autumn coaching programme. 

Cotham School use the sports facilities at Coombe Dingle, and the university are keen that children from other local schools do so too, maximising use of the 14 courts here in the daytime. 

Simon Johnson, LTA Head of Region for the South West said: "This is an exciting and transformational opportunity for tennis in Bristol. We know that more and more people are enjoying the sport and there is a real appetite for the improvement and regeneration of local courts to make tennis more accessible to everyone.

“Bristol has some fantastic park sites that we are looking to work with and develop a plan that suits the local community. Our research shows that at peak times, like weekends, our courts will be busy but there’s a lot of time when courts are empty. Our aspirations with the courts here are to provide a great experience at the lowest cost possible, that sustains the courts forever, so we aren’t having to come back. 

“Ten years ago the LTA put £350,000 into the courts in parks in Bristol and yet ten years later there is no more money to refurbish them, to bring them back up to scratch, to look after the fencing, or signpost them to let young people know where they are through Facebook. Instead we’ve got a situation where the courts are going to need resurfacing again and, short of writing a blank cheque every ten years to bring them up to scratch, we’ve missed an opportunity. What we are proposing is a flat fee of £35 per family per year and there will be opportunities for means testing. The aspiration is to provide a really clear and well-costed, accessible opportunity to play tennis in the parks.“

The LTA is calling on tennis clubs, parks, local government, volunteers, coaches and businesses 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