With Wimbledon in full swing, it was revealed today that Bristol’s tennis community is set to benefit from the biggest ever grassroots investment in the sport by The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).
The Transforming British Tennis Together initiative aims to make courts across the country more useable and accessible to everyone over the next ten years. The LTA will invest £125m to improve community tennis facilities, and plans to unlock a further £125m from community networks with a shared vision of the game.
Although Bristol has a large number of functional tennis courts, only 29% are floodlit and just 19% are covered, meaning adverse weather and darkness cause a third of playing hours to be lost.
The funding will be used to install easier-to-use booking systems, refurbish courts and clubhouses, and double the number of covered and floodlit courts to increase available playing hours across Bristol and the South West.
Figures from the LTA show that only 9.1% of Bristolians play tennis, even though 21.4% have shown an interest in taking up the sport. Through regeneration, the organisation hopes to encourage the 12% who have not yet picked up a racket, to take to the court.
Simon Johnson, LTA head of region for the South West said, “We know that more and more people are enjoying the sport and there is a real appetite for the improvement of local courts to make tennis more accessible to everyone.”
Details of the initiative were revealed at Coombe Dingle Sports Complex, which is at the heart of ambitious plans by the University of Bristol to create a world-class tennis destination for all-comers keen to pick up a racket – from students and schools to families and social players.
Students from Cotham School and schoolchildren on the University of Bristol Performance Programme joined Simon Johnson of the LTA and Matt Birch of the University of Bristol to announce the investment into growing tennis participation across the country, which is set to benefit the facilities locally and across the region.
The LTA is now calling on tennis clubs, parks, local government, volunteers, coaches and businesses across the country 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