Anyone for tennis?

A network of improved tennis facilities across B&NES is currently being created thanks to £600,000 worth of funding.

Work to refurbish tennis courts in Keynsham Memorial Park began on April 19 as part of a project being carried out by Bath & North East Somerset Council, alongside refurbishment works already begun at Alice Park and Sydney Gardens in Bath.

The project will create a network of community tennis facilities that encourages more people to take up the sport, offering pay and play opportunities, membership packages and free tennis and coaching programmes.

It will also provide wider community use for local schools, colleges, community groups and disability groups in a safe environment.

The council has worked with Alice Park Trust, Keynsham Town Council, Lawn Tennis Association and Sport England to secure the funding for the tennis court refurbishments.

The improvements are as follows:

  • Alice Park – Resurface six courts and improve fencing.
  • Sydney Gardens – Resurface and put new fencing around the top two courts, replace the undersized bottom three courts with a new two-court block as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund Bid for the park.
  • Keynsham – Resurface the four courts in the Memorial Park and improve fencing.

Two courts at both Alice Park and Sydney Gardens are expected to be ready for public use in June. In July, four further courts at Alice Park and the four courts at Keynsham are due for completion, with two remaining courts expected to be completed at Sydney Gardens in September.

The improved tennis provision is part of the council’s overall aim to get more people, more active, more often and support residents’ health and wellbeing. It comes in addition to improvements already completed at Royal Victoria Park, alongside refurbishment and community asset transfers of courts at Chew Valley School and Saltford.

The project has been funded by the Sport England Community Asset Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund, Community Infrastructure Levy, Lawn Tennis Association, and Keynsham Town Council.

Councillor Jess David, cabinet assistant for Neighbourhood Services, said: “This project is a great example of partnership working and will enhance the leisure facilities in B&NES, benefitting people of all ages in our community. Thank you to everyone who has given their support.

“Getting out for exercise in the open air is crucial to our health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally. Having these improved places to enjoy sport and get more exercise will be especially important in the wake of the pandemic.”

Keynsham Town Council has committed £7,500 towards the costs for the refurbishment of the tennis courts in Keynsham Memorial Park.

Councillor Andy Wait, Chairman of Keynsham Town Council, said: “The future of the tennis courts has been a matter of discussion between B&NES and the Town Council since the lease expired in 2018. This new programme by B&NES enables Keynsham residents to receive the benefits of an easier and more accessible booking system, with courts refurbished to a much higher standard than before. The Town Council has agreed to contribute £7,500 towards the scheme, with ownership and operation remaining with B&NES.  The Town Council will continue to focus its resources on improving play areas and other green spaces in the town.”

The Alice Park Trust has agreed that the courts in Alice Park will be transferred to the council for 25 years to allow works to be completed.

Councillor Rob Appleyard, Chair of the Alice Park Trust Committee, said: “For many years the Alice Park Trust has struggled to provide the quality of tennis provision that its community needed, so we are delighted that the future of quality facilities and an easy to book system has been secured with this partnership. It’s a great bonus that coaching and development will ensure full support for those wanting to enjoy this great sport.”

The courts will be operated on behalf of the council by the West of England Sport Trust (Wesport) which will manage and oversee the coaching provision at the park courts, providing coaching programmes and outreach to target groups.

Steve Nelson, Wesport Chief Executive, said: “The team at Wesport are highly motivated and passionate about getting more people active in the West of England and are very excited about the prospect of activating the park courts in Bath and Keynsham and boosting participation in tennis across a wide range of demographics, whilst also impacting on wider social outcomes.”

The new facilities will make use of the Lawn Tennis Association’s web-based bookings and access systems. The process is simple in that a court can be booked and paid online via a laptop, tablet or phone. 

James Deem, Participation Development Partner at the Lawn Tennis Association, said: “We are delighted to work in partnership with colleagues in Bath and North East Somerset to bring the development of these tennis courts into a reality. This is a significant investment into giving residents of the area the highest quality, sustainable public tennis facilities. It will use the latest booking and access technology to ensure booking a court is a simple and easy process. Having locally accessible and welcoming facilities aligns with the LTA strategy to make ‘tennis opened up’ to all parts of the community. We very much look forward to continue relationships with the local partners in the area to help as many people use these courts as possible long into the future.”

Work already completed as part of the tennis improvements in Bath and North East Somerset is as follows:

  • Royal Victoria Park – Replace the single outdoor court with a new court attached to the 2 newly refurbished courts.
  • Transfer of the tennis courts at Chew Valley School to Bishop Sutton Tennis Club and provide £10,000 of grant funding towards the cost of refurbishment of the courts.
  • Refurbishment of tennis courts and Community Asset Transfer to Saltford Tennis Club.  A grant of £5,000 has been provided towards the sink fund costs and a new club house project.

Find out more about Wesport

Find out more about the Lawn Tennis Association

Find out more about leisure facilities in B&NES.