New balls please – £377k investment brings state-of-the art tennis facilities to Worcester
More people in Worcester can now enjoy the benefits that come from playing tennis thanks to a partnership between the sport's governing body, the LTA, Worcester City Council and its leisure operator Freedom Leisure, as new state-of-the art courts open in two of the city's most popular parks.
The Tennis in the Park initiative is the start of a major drive to encourage more people in the city to pick up a racket and enjoy playing tennis – becoming fitter and healthier along the way.
Thanks to a £377,000 investment, five new courts at Cripplegate Park and two resurfaced courts at Gheluvelt Park have opened today (4 September 2020) as a new inclusive coaching programme is launched in the city.
The new courts have been made possible thanks to significant support from the LTA, as part of its nationwide facility investment strategy to help get more people playing tennis in communities across the country. They have served the city a grant of £107,500 and followed up with the loan of another £107,500.
The remaining costs have been met by Worcester City Council, with £50,000 coming from a payment received from Worcestershire County Council as part of last year's work to raise the level of New Road, which runs alongside Cripplegate Park.
Bookings for the new courts are open now. Options available include an annual pass for the new courts for just £65 per household – enabling a whole family to play tennis for just £1.25 a week. There are also options to pay and play, and to book adult or junior lessons.
Cllr James Stanley, Chair of Worcester City Council's Communities Committee, said: "Worcester already has a great reputation as a sporting city but until now tennis has been largely missing from the line-up. The significant investment we've attracted from the LTA has changed all that and I want to thank them for their commitment to our city."
Cllr Lynn Denham, Vice Chair of the Communities Committee, said: "We are committed to ensuring Worcester is a healthy and active city, and these new courts will create more opportunities than ever for people to take up tennis. It doesn't matter if you're a five-set champion or a complete novice – Worcester's tennis courts are now the ideal place to step up to the net."
The development of the new courts is part of an extensive programme of activity being supported by the LTA as a partner in the Worcester Community Tennis Network – a collection of local partners led by Worcester City Council that aims to use tennis as a way of getting more people active in parks, clubs, schools and community venues.
Jon Hughes, Regional Delivery Director at the LTA, added: "The LTA's vision is to open up tennis and its benefits to more people, and our investment in Worcester will do just that - providing increased opportunities for locals to pick up a racket and get on court. We have seen a huge spike in participation since lockdown and these fantastic new park courts will be a great addition to our efforts to develop the tennis offer across the city and its surrounding areas.
"We are delighted to be working so closely with Worcester City Council as a partner that shares our vision and recognises the contribution tennis can make in encouraging more people to live an active, healthy and enjoyable life"
Freedom Leisure has been chosen by the City Council as the operator of the courts and the associated coaching programme. The not-for-profit trust already runs the Council's sports and leisure centres, as well as organising community activities to get more Worcester residents fit and active.
Ivan Horsfall Turner, Managing Director at Freedom Leisure, said: "As operator of the three leisure centres in Worcester, we are really pleased to have been asked to manage the new tennis courts at Cripplegate Park and Gheluvelt Park. This adds to the fitness and leisure opportunities in Worcester and increases the opportunities for the Worcester community to be more active more often".
Social distancing measures are in place at the courts to ensure players can enjoy a match safely.