A partnership between Bath & North East Somerset Council and the LTA, the national governing body for tennis in Britain, has seen community park tennis courts in the local area regenerated.
Courts at Alice Park and Sydney Gardens in Bath and the Keynsham Memorial Park have benefitted from more than half a million pounds worth of investment.
The local authority and the LTA have been implementing a strategy to refurbish 14 tennis courts in all three parks since 2015.
At the beginning of the project, courts were in poor condition with little evidence of regular use.
Over £600,000 was invested in the complete refurbishment of all 14 courts, turning them into high-quality community sports facilities.
The investment included the installation of state-of-the-art Gate Access Technology, providing a simple and automated online journey to booking a court, using a PIN for secure entry.
Across the country, there are currently 1.7 million adults and many more children who play tennis in a local park every year, and park tennis courts are particularly important in introducing the sport to new audiences.
The project in Bath and North East Somerset forms part of a wider ambition of the LTA to drive participation across park tennis sites, as well as ensuring the future sustainability of these facilities, which are seen as being vital community assets that can help widen the impact of the physical and mental health benefits that being active through tennis can bring.
The improvements have already resulted in 370 households from the local community buying a £40 annual pass since early autumn 2021 to help them keep fit and active.
Over 5,000 bookings have been made across the 12 courts currently in play and a sinking fund has been set up to sustain the courts into the future and ensure they are able to be maintained to a high standard.
The remaining two courts at Sydney Gardens are due to be finished and bookable this month, with a community coaching programme across the three parks to be launched for residents this spring.
A project to open up tennis to different groups who perhaps might not have thought of tennis as a sport for them will be established to meet the aims and objectives of the council and the LTA.
Martin Pellow, Project Manager, Leisure and Public Health, Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “Previously, public tennis courts owned by Bath & North East Somerset Council were in poor condition, generating little or no income and requiring strategic investment.
“Working closely with the LTA, the council secured funding and appointed a contractor to refurbish the tennis courts in Keynsham Memorial Park, Alice Park and Sydney Gardens which included an online booking system and access gates.
“The project has created a network of community tennis facilities that we hope will encourage more people to take up tennis and become active.
“The newly appointed tennis operator, Wesport, will also facilitate wider use for local schools, colleges, community groups and disability groups, offering ‘pay & play’ opportunities, membership packages and free tennis with coaching programmes.”
James Deem, Parks Investment Delivery Partner at the LTA, said: “It has been fantastic to see the results of the investment into the courts in Alice Park, Sydney Gardens and Keynsham Memorial Park.
“We have enjoyed working in partnership with Bath & North East Somerset Council and delighted to see the impact the court refurbishments have had in driving tennis in the local communities.”