LTA launches park courts renovation project following Wimbledon success

Andy Murray won his second Wimbledon title earlier this month during a standout tournament for British competitors / Steve Paston/PA Wire/Press Association Images.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) will renovate several park courts over the coming years as it attempts to generate participation momentum following a stellar Wimbledon for British athletes.

Working with grassroots charity Tennis For Free (TFF) and local authorities, the governing body will improve the facilities and roll out schemes such as free ‘walk on and play’ sessions, fun sessions, bespoke groups, and sessions for schools, community centres and local clubs.

Thirty-four sites are already being renovated and more will follow as the LTA looks to capitalise on a purple patch in British tennis following the Wimbledon triumphs of Andy Murray, Heather Watson, Gordon Reid and Jordanne Whiley.

Alastair Marks, director of participation at the LTA, said the organisations were working to raise additional funds to roll the project out further and make a full announcement later this year.

“Both organisations believe that a strong element of free access to park courts is essential in growing participation,” added Marks. “We are committed to giving as many people of all ages the opportunity to experience a free, fun and engaging programme.”

The LTA is yet to reveal how many park courts will be improved – or the amount of money it expects to spend on renovations.
Talking to Sports Management earlier this year, Marks said the LTA put in around £5m (US$6.6m, €6m) per year into grant funding for facilities, but “around 65 per cent of courts could do with improvements”.

However, he said that the LTA was looking at “bigger and bolder” ways to improve the grassroots tennis facilities landscape in Britain.

TFF co-founder Patrick Hollwey said that they scheme would help grow participation beyond the 1.6m people that play tennis in parks in an ad hoc basis.

He added: “We know we can increase this number substantially and bring a new breed of player into the game, with a strong element of free tennis available to those from a less privileged and non-traditional tennis backgrounds.”
 
First published on www.sportsmanagement.co.uk, written by Matthew Campelli    20 July 2016