A school in Plymouth is joining forces with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and Plymouth City Council to make sure future generations in the city get the chance to play tennis in the winter. months thanks to a record level of grassroots investment into the game.
Hele’s School in Plympton runs an all-year round tennis programme for 250 of its students including sessions for young people from SEN (Special Education Needs) backgrounds and local primary schools thanks to an indoor facility which opened 15 years ago. The facility, which is also used by the local community and nearby Plympton Tennis Club, is the only one in the city that provides publically accessible indoor tennis courts.
The LTA’s Transforming British Tennis Together programme, announced earlier this year will provide up to £250 million of funding over 10 years to double the number of covered and floodlit courts across the UK. It is hoped that the initiative will help deliver the LTA and the city council’s aspirations to improve parks facilities across the city and get more people playing tennis more often, especially during the winter.
Recent improvements to parks facilities in Plymouth at St Budeaux and Plympton, along with the city council’s proposals for four new floodlight courts as part of a revamped Central Park could herald the start of a wider investment in tennis facilities across the city which has a long and proud association with the game.
Angela Mortimer, the UK’s last women’s world number one was born in Plymouth and won her first ever silverware as a junior player in the city before going on to win three Grand Slam titles including Wimbledon in 1961. Fred Perry also made his Davis Cup debut in Plymouth in 1931. The Lockington club courts where Mortimer and Perry both played have also benefited from recent LTA investment with resurfaced courts set to re-open in April next year.
Georgina Loosemore, LTA South West Participation Manager, said:“Plymouth has a rich tennis history and through Transforming British Tennis Together we’re looking to work with the city council, schools and clubs to deliver more new and improved facilities to give the next generation of players here more opportunities to play the game. The programme here at Hele’s School shows what can be done if you have the right facilities and coaches in place.”
Dominic Osborn, Head Coach at Hele’s School, Plymouth added: “These indoor courts are a godsend for the students at the school. There is no way they would be able to play as much tennis as they do without them particularly during the winter when darkness and bad weather tends to stop play. They are also a valuable asset for the local community and it would be great to see more indoor and covered courts across the city to get more young people
playing the game.”
Councillor Glenn Jordon, Cabinet Member for Culture, Plymouth City Council, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Lawn Tennis Association to improve tennis facilities in Plymouth. The new courts that we are installing at Central Park will complement the facilities here at Hele’s School and will hopefully provide a platform for a renewed interest in for tennis across the city.”
Transforming British Tennis Together aims to reduce the barriers to playing tennis by doubling the number of floodlit and covered courts across the UK over the next ten years, increasing available playing hours. The initiative will see £125 million invested by the LTA with the potential of a further £125 million in matched funding from local authorities and other organisations with a shared vision for growing the game. The scheme will see the LTA work with local communities across the region to:
- Install online booking and entry systems so everyone can book a tennis court easily from their mobile phone, computer or tablet;
- 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.
The LTA is calling on tennis clubs, parks, local government, volunteers, coaches and businesses across the region 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