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Local tennis courts in Cardiff set for major investment opportunity

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, could be rolled out to six other parks across the city.

Tennis Wales, the governing body for Tennis in Wales, has approached Cardiff Council with a plan which could see £750,000 invested in 29 of the city’s tennis courts.

If agreed, residents would also benefit from opportunities to get involved in tennis through affordable and free tennis programmes, and activities run by local coaches.

The offer to invest and take over the running of the council’s tennis courts at 6 park sites, starting with Rhymney Hill Gardens, Victoria Park and Llandaff Fields, will be considered by Cardiff Council’s Cabinet on Thursday, June 22. If agreed Tennis Wales would manage, operate, and maintain the courts for a minimum of ten-years. This would see the organisation:

Invest financially into the long-term security of park tennis courts, resurfacing, repainting, and repairing existing facilities.

Introduce online booking software so local people can find a court, book, and pay online.

Install gate access technology for booking purposes and remotely manage courts across the city, creating a safe space to play, potentially reducing anti-social behaviour and misuse.

Create local opportunities to get involved in tennis through affordable and free tennis programmes and activities run by local coaches, promoting general play to open tennis up in Cardiff.

Cabinet Member for Sports, Parks and Culture, Cllr Jennifer Burke, said: “Tennis Wales’s 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 could be rolled out across the city, bringing the sport to even more people.

“The ambition is to use the latest Tennis Wales insight and technology 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, as a not-for-profit organisation, 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 proposal Tennis Wales would 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, reducing the capital investment requirement from the Council or Lawn Tennis Association in future years.

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: “We believe 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.

“Tennis Wales would manage the sites with an agreement in place with a local coach or coaching operator to provide coaching services. They would also commit to there being a free tennis offer ensuring tennis remains accessible and affordable to residents. This could be a weekly free tennis session led by a coach with equipment supplied.”

The proposals will be scrutinised by the council’s Economy & Culture Scrutiny Committee on the 20thJune.