ALMOST £6 million is to be spent modernising Scotland’s tennis facilities in a bid to capitalise on the success of Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.
Sport Scotland, an agency of the Scottish Government, said £5.8m would be invested over the next four years to help encourage a new generation of players to take up the game.
Those in charge of the sport in Scotland hope Murray’s success on Centre Court at Wimbledon on Sunday will inspire more youngsters to pick up a racquet.
Sport Scotland said its objectives were to grow participation rates, increase the accessibility of tennis and provide suitable environments to develop athletes to top-performance levels.
Stewart Harris, Sport Scotland’s chief executive, said: “Andy’s Wimbledon victory was a defining moment for Scottish sport, and we are working collectively to capitalise on his incredible success. This announcement will make it more accessible for people in Scotland to play tennis by improving facilities.”
According to Tennis Scotland, the game is enjoying increased popularity, with the sport’s governing body in Scotland seeing a 45.7 per cent rise in its membership since 2008. The new investment will improve tennis facilities in both clubs and public parks, as well as allowing Tennis Scotland to employ more staff.
David Marshall, Tennis Scotland’s chief executive, said: “Never in the history of the game has tennis enjoyed such a level of profile in this country, and this announcement greatly enhances our ability to take advantage of what is a huge opportunity to significantly increase levels of participation.” Sports minister Shona Robison added: “Andy’s win was an emotional moment for Scotland, and the whole country has been inspired by his brilliant performance. We want to see more people playing tennis and having access to top-quality facilities to get fit, try something new, and have fun.”
However, Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s cross-party group on sport, said the investment had been too long in coming. She said: “Many Scots will remember walk-on courts in local parks and playing fields that are now concreted over, deemed costly and unnecessary. Promising to revive public tennis courts is a welcome step and they must be maintained for future generations.
“This sudden splashing of cash by government must serve as a lesson to those in authority that failure to invest in sport and leisure is a false economy.”