Tennis courts

Esher’s tennis courts are under threat as councilors see the site’s future as too difficult to maintain

Councilors are considering the option of a paddle tennis court as a use for an Esher site which is proving difficult to maintain.

The West End tennis courts at Esher suffer from several issues that make them difficult to maintain or improve, including the need to dig a trench to install a more secure gate, the possibility of tree roots growing under the court and an oil pipeline in the region.

Cabinet members of Elmbridge Borough Council discussed tennis court plans across the region on Wednesday evening (January 12), pointing out that West End courts are also smaller than LTA regulation size.

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The plan for the courts is that they continue to be used until they are no longer safe to play tennis, and after that the courts would be closed and repurposed as an open green space site.

Councilor Peter Harman (Weybridge & St. George’s Independents, Weybridge St Georges Hill) asked: “Is it planned to be used for paddle tennis? It seems to be getting more and more popular these days and I don’t don’t think they need a normal sized court?”

Paddle tennis is an adapted tennis game played on smaller courts and with sturdy rackets.

Councilor Janet Turner (Residents Association of Hinchley Wood, Hinchley Wood and Weston Green), holder of the Leisure and Culture portfolio, said this was an option she was considering for the site and the plan was definitely to put something on the site, be it paddle tennis or something else.

West End Courts had 103 hearing hours booked in April 2020, the lowest of Elmbridge’s 12 venues.

Cllr Turner spoke of the success of Elmbridge’s relaunched tennis membership scheme, which has been in place since April last year and has brought charges to play on council courts.

She explained that the part-time role of tennis development officer would be made permanent – which the cabinet voted in favor of – and said she was “flabbergasted” by the number of sign-ups.

According to council documents, 3,071 members have signed up for the membership program since its launch.

Cllr Turner said: “We went way beyond my wildest dreams. I thought we might go up a bit but actually we actually made £55,000 or a bit more.

“And it’s a huge success.”

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