The LTA today hailed the government’s £ 22million investment in public tennis courts across Britain as a transformation for the sport.
The move, coupled with an £ 8.5million investment from the LTA, will revive thousands of public tennis courts in dilapidated or unplayable public parks for the benefit of their local community.
The park’s tennis court facilities are owned by local authorities and are vital community assets that can help broaden the impact of the physical and mental health benefits that being active through tennis can bring.
Maintaining and increasing participation in tennis on the park’s courts is also essential to the long-term health of the sport itself and to the LTA’s vision to open tennis to more people. The LTA believes that tennis should be relevant, accessible, welcoming and enjoyable for everyone, and the park’s facilities are one of the most important ways to achieve this. Building on Great Britain’s success at the US Open, with Emma Raducanu, Joe Salisbury, Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett winning titles at home, this represents a unique opportunity to capitalize on the public’s interest in tennis. and build on the heritage of the Murray family. and others in recent years.
There are currently 1.7 million adults and many more children playing tennis at a local park each year, and the park’s tennis courts are particularly important in providing affordable, engaging and accessible opportunities to more people. players and those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, while being the most popular place for women to play after leaving school.
While the sport’s popularity is booming, with annual tennis participation increasing 8% last year despite long periods of lockdown, there are many areas of the country where the park’s courts remain run-down and unattractive. Currently in England, Wales and Scotland around 45% of parkland is classified as bad, very bad, or unplayable, preventing many from picking up a racket and becoming active. Critically, half of the unplayable sites are in the most disadvantaged areas of the country.
The ambition of the LTA is to stimulate participation at all tennis venues in the park, as well as to ensure the future sustainability of these facilities. In addition to paying for the renovation of public park courts, the new investment will also fund the implementation of sustainable operating models for the facilities, with specialized programs and support to ensure that the courts are both affordable and affordable. used.
Learn more about the impact of tennis courts in parks
Following the renovation, the LTA will work with local authorities across Britain to support them with a variety of operating models to help increase participation. This includes making it easier to find and book a pitch through LTA’s online booking platform, LTA Rally, combined with digital portal access technology so people can show up knowing that a land is available to them, as well as community coaching programs. . It also provides opportunities to generate sinking funds so that local communities can continue to invest in facilities for the long term and ensure they are available for future generations. The LTA and its partners will work with local authorities to ensure that the offer can be as accessible as possible.
This approach has already been successfully deployed over the past three years, including in cities like Manchester and Sheffield, and has shown that with the right mix of programs and coaching activities, participation in parks can increase dramatically. . For example, at St Mary’s Park in Bury, where the local authority and LTA teamed up to renovate the courts in 2017 and introduce new tennis programs, bookings have since quadrupled and there are now nine times as many users. recorded only before the start of the work.
The LTA’s £ 8.5million grant comes from the LTA Trust, the LTA’s charity for tennis infrastructure investment, of which the LTA is the sole funder.
This program will be transformational for public tennis facilities in Britain
Scott Lloyd, General Manager of the LTA, said: “This program will be a transformation for public tennis facilities in Britain. Along with the money the LTA is investing in this additional government investment, we will be able to repair and renovate dilapidated parklands across the country. We are also committed to ensuring that any investment is supported by sustainable community tennis programs, so that the courts experience real growth in use and that local authorities can continue to invest in their courts for the long term.
Beyond the £ 8.5million parkland grant, the LTA continues to invest in tennis programs and facilities across the country, providing individual loans for many venues across the country. the country. The LTA also remains committed to working with national and local governments to support and significantly expand the network of public indoor tennis venues across Britain to complement the 54 currently operating community indoor tennis centers.
Tennis Parks Support for Local Authorities
In addition to the renovation of the courts, the LTA supports local communities with a free offer of tennis in the parks in several ways:
The development of LTA Rally, a new digital platform to help people find tennis activities in their area and make it easier to book a court, has been at the heart of these plans. The platform was launched in 2020.
Acting as an aggregator, LTA Rally collects all booking and coaching information through the booking pages of partner sites and displays it for attendees on an easy-to-navigate page, helping to eliminate what has turned out to be a major obstacle to increased participation in sport in parks.
Portal access systems
LTA Rally was also developed to work in conjunction with Portal Access Systems, where participants are given a code when a reservation is made to access the courts and become active through tennis. These systems are offered to local authorities for parks on a fully funded basis.
Local tennis leagues
Last year, the LTA also acquired “local tennis leagues,” which bring friendly and competitive tennis to thousands of adults. The acquisition comes with a plan to expand delivery of the leagues to more park venues across the county, and an exciting opportunity to create mass participation in grassroots and competitive tennis as part of the game. regular community-oriented events in a friendly environment. Local, fun and social competitive opportunities, like those provided by local tennis leagues, have proven to be a great way to encourage people to play more regularly – we aspire to this to be the first step in creating the tennis equivalent of parkrun.
Other tennis products and programs
The acquisition of local tennis leagues and the partnership with Tennis for Free allows the LTA to include them in a range of products and scheduled activities to be performed at park venues. These include LTA Youth, LTA’s innovative and industry-leading new junior program, and LTA Big Tennis Weekends to help tennis venues attract the local community to come and try the sport at fun open houses and welcoming.
Park operating models
Different parks or groups of parks need different operating models to be successful. This is why the LTA has developed a flexible set of best practice models based on the experiences of a range of successful and sustainable park sites across Britain.
Whether a local authority owns and operates a park or group of sites itself, through a recreation trust or non-profit partner, or whether the courts are operated by local community groups , an applicable operating model has been developed. Through its regional team, the LTA is also able to support the recruitment, training and retention of the right tennis workforce.