The LTA is launching a major drive to grow participation in tennis across parks throughout the country.
The governing body for tennis in Britain says it will support local authorities with cost-free opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of their communities through tennis, and ensure their tennis venues are sustainable for the future.
A package of initiatives has been developed to support park tennis facilities across the country, opening the sport to more people. The LTA says it is targeting more than 1,000 priority parks, and says the scheme will see the roll-out of free technology solutions to improve accessibility and player experience, parks-based competitions, and programmed activity to drive regular play, development of a range of sustainable operating models and interest free, quick-access loans for facility improvements.
As part of the plans, the LTA has also acquired ‘Local Tennis Leagues’, which offers competitive tennis for thousands of adults, and says it plans to scale the delivery of the leagues to more park sites across the county, and an exciting opportunity to create mass participation in grassroots competitive tennis as part of regular, community focused events in a friendly environment.
“Park tennis facilities are absolutely crucial to us achieving increased and sustained participation levels in our sport, and so the development of this work has been a central priority since we launched our new strategy last year and our work to make tennis relevant, accessible, welcoming and enjoyable to anyone,” said Scott Lloyd, CEO, LTA.
“As park tennis courts open back up following the easing of restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic, the LTA is determined to work in partnership with local authorities to safeguard park tennis venues up and down the country, drive participation in tennis in parks and help open up the sport and its benefits to many more people.
“We now have a ready-to-go offer in place for local authorities, with our LTA Rally online booking platform and gate access systems both easy to implement, while exciting acquisitions like Local Tennis Leagues and our range of programmed activity ensure park facilities will be able to offer something for everyone.”
The LTA says there is latent demand from the public to play tennis, but the key barriers to entry come down to finding and booking a court or and finding someone to play with. To address the problem, the NGB has launched Rally, a free digital platform to help people search for tennis activities in their area and make it easier for people to find and book a court, book group coaching, play a match or find free tennis events.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston added: "Normally at this time of year we'd be looking forward to the start of Wimbledon, but there is no reason why we can't hit the tennis courts ourselves. Tennis is a brilliant sport for the whole family to enjoy and can be done easily with social distancing, so I welcome the steps the LTA is taking to open up local courts and encourage everyone to pick up their rackets."
Access to the app will be given to authorities for parks in the LTA’s priority locations on a fully funded basis as part of a £7m grant investment programme.