Anyone For Tennis?
Park tennis courts in Preston have officially reopened following a £243,000 renovation, managed by the LTA, and funded by the UK Government, LTA Tennis Foundation and Preston City Council. Photography: Lisa Brown
The Grade II* listed Moor Park sits on the outskirts of Preston city centre, retaining a Green Flag award in recognition of its heritage and maintenance. As the city’s oldest and largest parkland, Moor Park offers vast open green spaces and notable beauty spots. With so many paths and so much space, you’re free to walk, run, cycle, or even skate in the park’s designated skatepark. Moor Park makes a fool-proof visit for sports fans and families, thanks to its wide variety of sports and recreational facilities and children’s play areas. And along with other parks in Preston, now boasts upgraded tennis courts.
The tennis courts in Moor Park, along with Haslam Park and Ashton Park, have benefited from the £243,000 investment. Moor Park hosted a ceremony attended by the Mayor of Preston, Councillor Yakub Patel and Cabinet Member, Councillor Freddie Bailey, along with representatives from the LTA and delivery partner, We Do Tennis, on Saturday 30th September. There was an opportunity for people from the local community to pick up a racket and get on court for a range of free tennis sessions.
Councillor Freddie Bailey, Cabinet Member for Environment and Community Safety at Preston City Council, said: “We enjoyed a fantastic event on Saturday with families playing tennis on the refurbished courts, despite the rain! We have a great partnership with the LTA, sharing an ambition to encourage more people to take up tennis and to be more active, all in the beautiful surroundings of our Green Flag parks. “Thanks to everyone involved in organising a successful event and to everyone who attended the tennis sessions, we hope it was enjoyed by one and all.”
Through the Parks Tennis Project, the LTA is delivering the biggest ever investment in parks tennis facilities across Britain, which has been used to transform eleven courts across the local area, providing a significant boost to sporting facilities. The courts have undergone extensive work to ensure viability for years to come, including resurfacing and repainting works, new fencing and nets and the introduction of gate access technology. This nationwide programme of investment is seeing thousands of existing park tennis courts in poor or unplayable condition brought back to life for the benefit of communities across the country, providing vital opportunities for children and adults to get active.
Julie Porter, Chief Operating Officer at the LTA, said: “After months of hard work, we’re delighted to see park tennis courts across Preston City Council officially back open to the public, and in better shape than ever. Public tennis courts are such vital facilities for getting active and we want as many people as possible, of all ages and abilities, to pick up a racket and enjoy playing tennis. Thanks to this investment the sport will be opened up to more players, for years to come.”
This will include weekly, organised, free park tennis sessions for all ages, abilities and experience where equipment is provided, meaning that people will not need someone to play with or their own racket. Local Tennis Leagues will also provide sociable opportunities to get active through local competition. These friendly sessions are open to anyone in the area with an interest in playing tennis, whatever age or ability. Introducing a small fee to book a court will help to build up a fund to repair courts in future years, when they will inevitably need more maintenance. Preston City Council is working with the LTA to ensure that there will be weekly free tennis sessions on courts. This means nobody in the local community will be excluded from the chance to pick up a racket and start playing.
Stuart Andrew MP, Sports Minister, added: “We are committed to levelling up access to sport which is so important for the nation’s physical and mental health.
The Government and the LTA are working together to deliver thousands of refurbished courts across Great Britain, supported by £30 million of investment including in Preston. These improved tennis facilities will provide the local community with fun opportunities to get active and potentially become the next Andy Murray or Emma Raducanu.”
And there are other ways to get involved. The LTA Free Park Tennis scheme is a volunteer-led hour of free tennis on a Saturday or Sunday 10am-11am (similar concept to Parkrun) – which would give the local community access to the tennis courts, rackets, and equipment free of charge at a peak time every week. The volunteer training is free and online, and LTA Free Park Activators will also receive an LTA Free Park Tennis hoodie. Using the ClubSpark system, it is possible to create a ‘concessions’ membership that those in certain groups sign up to, free of charge. These players would then be automatically given a 50 per cent discount whenever they book a court. This allows a targeted discount provision for those who really need it.
Annual Passes offer great value for players who can sign up to for court access (seven hours per week) throughout the year.