Newcastle could serve as the next Emma Raducanu or Andy Murray – if a £ 163,000 tennis court upgrade continues.
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has identified the borough as a priority area to increase participation in the sport, which could see major improvements at two venues.
Research suggests that there are 2,213 adults in Newcastle who would love to play tennis but currently do not.
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Newcastle Borough Council currently operates 18 tennis courts at six venues, including Westlands Sports Ground (10) and Wolstanton Park (four).
Due to the poor condition of the courts, their use is currently free, players can show up without a reservation.
According to plans made by the Borough Council and the LTA, the Westlands and Wolstanton Courts would be redone and repainted.
Officials believe courts would also benefit from installing electronically controlled access doors, which would allow people to book sessions through the LTA website or app.
According to a report from the council, this would provide a “clear customer journey for tennis parks, simplify the management of reservations, remove barriers to access and promote revenue generation.”
It would cost £ 163,700 to install the gates, and the LTA has agreed in principle to provide £ 133,700, with the Borough Council contributing £ 30,000 – although the project is still awaiting final approval.
Council head Simon Tagg said: “One of the council’s priorities is to create a healthy and active borough by ensuring that residents have access to a wide range of high quality facilities and activities. . The current renovation of the Kidsgrove sports center and the new pump runway at the Newchapel recreation ground are two examples.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for the Council to improve the quality of recreational tennis facilities in Newcastle-under-Lyme and to develop excellent, affordable programs for sport, exercise and play.”
Jill Waring, member of the Recreation, Culture and Heritage Cabinet, added: “This is extremely positive news and a chance to further help residents improve their health and well-being.
“Sport England data shows that there is latent demand in the borough for tennis if physical barriers are removed. This is an ideal opportunity to work with partners to bring more investment and revenue to our parks, ultimately giving local communities the chance to come together. “
The next step in the program will see the LTA commission a detailed scope of work required in the Westlands and Wolstanton, with the Borough Council then identifying a preferred contractor.
If the plans are approved by the LTA, improvements to both sites could be completed by spring 2022. Borough Council is expected to pay around £ 6,000 a year to maintain gate access controls and cover costs license for the LTA reservation platform
The local authority will also work with the LTA to develop a “comprehensive, inclusive and affordable” tennis program at the two sites, which could include tennis leagues, practices and “free tennis” initiatives.
And it is planned to work with the LTA to develop tennis courts in other parks in the borough.