Bid to switch tennis focus from clubs to communities
AS THE first rumblings of Murray-mania emerge and Wimbledon shifts on to the horizon, Scottish tennis is starting to create a racket of its own in new territories.
Tennis Scotland helped to launch a new Borders Tennis centre in Galashiels at the weekend, refurbished by Borders Sport and Leisure after it took over responsibility for sports development from Scottish Borders Council last summer. It forms part of a drive across Scotland where tennis is moving back to the heart of towns and communities and revitalising old courts.
Peter Gordon, Tennis Scotland’s Development Manager, explained: “For many years private tennis clubs have been the main driver of tennis development in Scotland, and down south, but we have been working hard with communities, councils and charitable trusts to really drive public access to courts.
“We had the Davis Cup at Braehead but there were no public courts in Renfrewshire for people to play on. That’s not good. So, working with local partners, last July we opened six new all-weather courts at Brodie Park in Paisley with a coach in place to help people who come along.
“There are now similar developments at Leith Links in Edinburgh, at Dollar Park in Falkirk, where four old blaes courts have been transformed with all-weather surfaces and we’re currently looking at a site in Bathgate.
“And it’s not purely about the facility. We’re going in with programmes of tennis, whether it’s just fun for families to come and have a shot, play with each other, with friends or whatever, or coaching for beginners and games.
“The LTA [Lawn Tennis Association] is pushing a new programme based not around clubs but communities, and are being challenged through the funding they receive to make a difference in communities and, while it doesn’t help them necessarily to achieve that in Scotland, we are all buying into it because we know that it can make a significant difference to the numbers of people playing tennis up here.
It’s a natural fit for us, especially with so many youngsters now wanting to emulate Andy Murray.”
The Borders Tennis Centre, which opened on Monday, is located between Galashiels Academy, the local high school, and the Galashiels swimming pool, and features seven courts with changing facilities, showers and a small social hub.
“This is a great example of what we’re trying to do across Scotland,” added Gordon.
“It is a great partnership between Tennis Scotland and Borders Sport and Leisure, with a number of local groups and clubs also involved, and the beauty is that traditional tennis players will come and play but it is an ‘open’ facility, open to everyone, so that people who have not been drawn to tennis, or didn’t want to go to a private club, can just come and play.
“There will be good membership prices to help look after the facility [£30 for adults per year and £15 for children], and coaching sessions, ‘coffee morning tennis’, mini tennis, adult social tennis etc, but no-one has to be a member to play.”
Borders Sport and Leisure Chairman Tony Taylor added: “This is what sport and the Trust is all about, bringing people together and allowing them the opportunity to try sport, have fun and just be more active more often.
“It is what we are driving across the Borders with the help of partners such as Tennis Scotland and Scottish Borders Council.”
Taylor added: “Launching the Borders Tennis Centre now is perfect for the school summer holidays and hopefully the many who will be inspired by Andy Murray over the next few weeks.”
• More info: www.tennisscotland.org and www.bslt.org.uk
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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