The much anticipated refurbishment of the derelict Maryhill Tennis Courts has begun.
Construction has begun on the site after years of campaigning by volunteers and Friends of Maryhill Park (FOMP), who care for the area and the courts.
Not used to their full potential due to their dilapidated condition, the courts are located in North Glasgow Park, adjacent to the Community Garden.
The tennis courts were overgrown, neglected and their use is highly weather dependent according to Sarah Howitt, who is co-chair of Friends of Maryhill Park and the Maryhill Community Tennis Club.
Fundraising and awareness efforts have been going on for four years, but the cause gained considerable attention when Judy Murray visited in 2019.
His foundation has also offered a generous donation of £50,000 to support the upgrade in a bid to make the sport more accessible to the community.
Sarah Howitt, Co-Chair of FOMP and MCTC, said: “Fundraising has not been easy, with costs rising many times over, but we have raised just enough to allow construction to go from strength to strength. the front.
“We may still need to raise additional funds for a changing room and toilets, but the fact that we are able to go ahead and build three full pitches and four mini pitches all lit is a absolute triumph.
“This project is community-driven and bringing local people together. Tennis is considered an elite sport, but five-year-olds don’t know that, they just know that the coaches are teaching them some really fun games.
“We have kids from all over Maryhill and Summerston who come every week, and they’ve all gotten a free racquet. For them, it’s just fun.
“When the Judy Murray Foundation came along it wasn’t just about building infrastructure, they made it clear that all of this would only work if we had a ‘workforce’ in place to run it. Training coaches and keeping kids interested, even without courts, was key.
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As we previously reported, work was originally scheduled to begin in 2020, but was delayed when the pandemic hit.
Around £200,000 has been raised over the years, from different grants, donations and fundraising efforts.
Now the renovation is officially underway, with plans to turn the current red courts into three tarmac courts and four mini courts, to specifically encourage children to use them.
According to plans, the facility will be ready for use in August and will be run by a new local club, the Maryhill Community Tennis Club (MCTC), in partnership with Glasgow Life.
The local community is enthusiastic about the development, including 60 local primary school children, who are coached by two dads Stuart McMillan and Craig McCarron.
They originally hoped to use the courts, but due to their condition, they have mainly trained at local primary schools and hope to move once the upgrade is complete.
Mr. McMillan, coach and co-chairman of the MCTC, said: “It has been an incredible three years. I never thought for a second that I would talk about starting a permanent community tennis club and considering coaching three times a week.”
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Judy Murray, who was personally involved in the project, said: “Sport has the power to change lives and I am so happy to have been able to play a part in bringing this installation to Maryhill Park with a wonderful group. of people.
“It is a perfect legacy for the Judy Murray Foundation which aimed to bring tennis to rural and deprived areas across Scotland by building local squads to deliver training, competitions and upcoming events.
“Affordable and accessible public courts embedded in communities are essential to opening tennis up to everyone and making our nation more active.”
Bailie Annette Christie, Chair of Glasgow Life and Head of Culture, Sport and International Relations for Glasgow City Council, said: “We are delighted that the refurbishment of the tennis courts at Maryhill is underway and we have been so encouraged by the strong working partnership between all parties involved.
“Glasgow Life is committed to improving the mental and physical well-being of local communities, and we know the new courts at Maryhill will go a long way in helping us achieve this goal.
“This would not have been possible without the strong relationships between the partners, and we look forward to continuing to work with Friends of Maryhill Park, Maryhill Community Tennis Club, Judy Murray, sportscotland and all local partners as we go. as the renovation progresses and we begin to make plans for more people to use the new courts.