WELCOMING the Lawn Tennis Association’s drive to support local authorities grow tennis participation in local parks, Labour MP Virendra Sharma has urged “everyone to pick up their rackets and book a court”.
He underscored that the plan came amid huge demand for tennis courts across his constituency, Ealing Southall, which was facing a financial crunch.
The LTA has developed a “comprehensive, cost-free offer” to local authorities to improve the health and wellbeing of their communities through tennis. Targeting “1,000 priority target parks across Britain”, the plan includes technology solutions to enhance accessibility and player experience, parks-based competitions and interest-free loans for facility improvements.
Notably, the plan complements LTA’s new Play Your Way campaign to encourage “anyone and everyone to play tennis” by “creating a more inclusive world around the game that celebrates individualism and welcomes all playing styles”.
Play like no one’s watching. Hit like no one’s judging. However and whenever #PlayYourWay
— LTA (@the_LTA) June 22, 2020
“At a time when Ealing Council is facing significant financial challenges, I welcome the raft of initiatives that the LTA is putting in place to help drive participation in tennis in park venues, and to help local authorities ensure their facilities are financially sustainable,” said Sharma.
“Tennis is a brilliant sport for the whole family to enjoy and can be done easily with social distancing, so I encourage everyone to pick up their rackets and book a court, and Play Your Way!”
As part of the new programme, the tennis governing body also plans to popularise LTA Rally, “a new digital platform to help people search for tennis activities in their area and make it easier for people to book a court”.
Launched earlier this year, the platform covers over 300 park sites around the country, and has started taking bookings through the site. Acting as an aggregator, LTA Rally collates booking and coaching information, and displays them in one easy-to-view page.
LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd said: “We recognise the financial challenges local authorities across the country are facing, particularly in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the pressures that this presents around ongoing delivery of sporting and leisure facilities and opportunities for local communities.
“As park tennis courts across the country continue to open back up, it is crucial that these venues are safeguarded to ensure they continue to serve as hubs to bring individuals and communities together through tennis. We welcome any interest from local authorities in working together to make that happen.”