Manchester City Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Schools, Culture and Leisure, joined local families for a game of tennis at Alexandra Park to see the impact the park’s new courts are having as the city looks to grow the game even further with the help of the LTA.
The four new floodlit courts and clubhouse were part of a multi-million pound regeneration of the historic park in Moss Side, which re-opened in 2014. It was funded by Manchester City Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund and supported by the LTA, England and Wales Cricket Board and Sport England.
An online booking system installed as part of the improvements recently saw its 1000th registered user at the courts which offer a range of programmes for local residents alongside weekly community sessions at Wythenshawe, Chorlton and Fletcher Moss Park in Didsbury. The numbers of community park court players – including those taking part in sessions such as this morning’s LTA-run family open morning – now stands at over 3,600.
The courts at Alexandra Park are just one of a number of recent improvements to facilities in parks across the city including a £250,000 investment at Fletcher Moss Park which re-opened last month with resurfaced courts, new floodlights and fencing as the council and the LTA look to increase opportunities for people to play and get on court more often.
In addition to these recent improvements, the digital access system installed at Fletcher Moss Park has seen a 50% increase in users to just under 1,000 and tennis is similarly booming at Wythenshawe, where over 750 users are now playing.
Whilst over 25% of the city’s courts are now floodlit compared with one in seven across the country, only 5% are covered. This discourages many from picking up a racket and playing during the winter. Through it’s Transforming Tennis Together initiative, the LTA is investing £125 million pounds to double number of covered and floodlit courts over the next 10 years to get more people playing all-year round. A further £125 million could also be available through matched funding from local councils and community networks with a shared vision for growing the game.
Sam Foakes, Regional Participation Manager for the North West region at the LTA, said: “The facilities here are fantastic and it’s great to see them being enjoyed today by people of all ages but especially younger players. We’re looking forward to working with the council and others across the city to look at the opportunities offered by Transforming British Tennis Together in getting even more people in Manchester playing tennis, particularly during those long winter months.”
Councillor Rahman, Executive Member for Schools, Culture and Leisure added: “We’re proud of the work that’s been done at Alexandra Park and in other areas of the city to grow tennis and get more people playing for the first time. Tennis is a great way to get active and meet new people and it’s also a game that anyone can play. Having the right facilities in the right places will be crucial to achieving this so we’re excited by the the chance to continue working with the LTA who share our vision for tennis in the city. “
Transforming British Tennis Together aims to reduce the barriers to playing tennis by doubling the number of floodlit and covered courts across the UK over the next ten years, increasing available playing hours. The initiative will also see the LTA work with local communities across the region to:
- Install online booking and entry systems so everyone can book a tennis court easily from their mobile phone, computer or tablet;
- Refurbish courts, clubhouses and other social spaces to ensure players have a great experience every time they visit; and
- Support other innovative and creative ideas that meet local demand.
The LTA is calling on tennis clubs, parks, local government, volunteers, coaches and businesses across Manchester and the North West to come together and register their interest in bidding for the funds to transform their local tennis courts. For more information visit www.lta.org.uk/tbtt