Tennis funding could transform North Somerset’s courts and drive participation in the sport

PUBLISHED: 16:00 21 July 2017

North Somerset Tennis Academy.

North Somerset Tennis Academy.

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Thousands of pounds could be invested in tennis courts around North Somerset where participation in the sport is said to be ‘poor’.

North Somerset Tennis Academy.North Somerset Tennis Academy.

The Lawn Tennis Association has launched its biggest ever investment programme to transform the sport at grassroots level and is urging North Somerset clubs to get involved.

The £125million initiative aims to make courts easier to book and ensure rain and darkness no longer stop play.

In the South West, around a third of possible playing hours are lost because of the weather or lack of floodlights.

Interest in professional tennis is at its peak – but participation levels in North Somerset are low, and the standard of the district’s courts is seen as a key barrier.

Stuart Bannerman, head coach at North Somerset Tennis Academy which runs sessions at the courts on Clevedon’s seafront, said improved facilities were desperately needed in North Somerset.

Stuart said: “This funding will be amazing for places like the seafront courts in Clevedon and will benefit the community.

“We desperately need facilities which can be covered.

“Participation in this area is actually poor. For those aged 18 and over, it is probably at an all-time low.”

North Somerset Tennis Academy.North Somerset Tennis Academy.

Participation in the district is particularly low for girls, despite the recent successes of Britain’s Johanna Konta.

Of the children aged five to eight, 70 per cent of them playing tennis in the district are girls.

But in older age groups, this trend reverses.

Stuart said the UK used to lead the way in its standard of public tennis courts, but the rest of Europe has caught up.

He said many of the district’s courts need to be resurfaced.

Stuart added: “The benefits of tennis are it is one of those sports you can play for the rest of your life.

“It is a great social sport, and obviously a great form of exercise.

“There are also so many children who have anxiety issues, but through tennis they have been able to let go and not worry about anything else.

“It has been really good for their confidence.”

To learn more, visit www.lta.org.uk/TBTT


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