A popular tennis scheme which has boosted the number of people taking up the sport in the Cardiff suburb of Heath, and which would see significant sums of money invested into local tennis courts, is set to be rolled out to six other parks across the city.
The plan, which was approved by Cardiff Council last week, saw ‘in principle’ funding agreed which could see the LTA invest in the region of £750,000 in 29 of the city’s tennis courts, through its UK Government and LTA Tennis Foundation funded Park Project.
As part of the agreement the refurbished courts, starting with those at Rumney Hill Gardens, Victoria Park and Llandaff Fields, will be manged, operated, and maintained by Tennis Wales, who currently operate the Heath Park tennis courts.
Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Events, Cllr Jennifer Burke, said: “The LTA and Tennis Wales’ delivery of investment at Heath Park has converted a site that was in poor condition with very limited tennis activity into a vibrant, tennis hub where the game is being enjoyed every day. There has been a significant increase in people taking up the game there, with coaching, schools’ activity, and competitions all on offer alongside regular games. There are now 900 members playing at the Heath courts, including the first LGBGTQ club in Wales. It’s really exceeded our expectations and it’s very exciting to think this LTA investment will enable the scheme to be rolled out across the city, bringing the sport to even more people.”
The LTA investment is part of a £30 million UK-wide programme that will see thousands of existing park tennis courts in poor or unplayable condition brought back to life for the benefit of communities, through renovation works and improved court accessibility with new gate-access technology and booking systems.
Cllr Burke continued: “The ambition is to improve the customer experience, grow the numbers of people playing the game, and create safe places to play by reducing vandalism, anti-social behaviour and misuse which we’ve seen at our other courts. Importantly, Tennis Wales, will re-invest any money raised from playing fees into the courts so they are maintained to a high level and people have a great place to learn and enjoy the game.”
As part of the agreement Tennis Wales will introduce and operate its Club Spark entry membership and management scheme. The scheme enables Tennis Wales to generate income via a low-cost, pay-to-play policy the proceeds of which are used to reinvest into the courts.
Accessible park tennis courts are vital for getting children and adults active, particularly women and those from less well-off backgrounds, delivering significant physical and mental wellbeing benefits. Residents will benefit from opportunities to get involved in tennis through a range of affordable and free tennis programmes, including weekly free family tennis sessions, holiday schemes, activities run by local coaches, and friendly local tennis competition through local tennis leagues.
Currently, Heath Park has three paid options designed for families, students, and casual users, in addition to a free offer:
- Family Pass – £39.00 per annum – Any family member in the household can book & play for 12 months, with as much tennis as they wish to play included in this fee. This equates to only £3.25 per month, per family and is cheaper than playing other traditional sports such as Netball, Football, Hockey, Rugby, Badminton, Squash etc.
- Student Pass – £19.00 per annum – Any student can book & play for 12 months, with as much tennis as they wish to play included.
- Pay & Play – £4.50 per court, per hour – Simply book online, pay for the hour and give tennis a try. (This is for players who do not have or wish to have a Pass)
- Free – A calendar of free trial opportunities, open days and free coaching throughout the year.
Cllr Burke added: “This is a great opportunity to secure and protect the future of tennis courts across the city for future generations. It’s no secret the Council is having to make budget cuts year after year, so we must find partners who can help us maintain services in a way that benefits the residents of Cardiff. The Tennis pilot in Heath gives clear evidence that this could be successfully rolled out across the city for the benefit of everyone. Right now, our tennis courts are in poor repair, and this offers us an opportunity to do something about that.”
Cabinet discussed the plans at a meeting on the afternoon of Thursday, June 22nd.