LAWN Tennis Association (LTA) chief executive Roger Draper called on tennis players of all ages and abilities in the north east to pick up a racket as he opened a brand new £1m indoor tennis facility at Churchill Community College in Wallsend.
Tennis@Churchill is an indoor, all-weather, four-court tennis site for the community to use, including students and local clubs.
The development was made possible thanks to a £347,000 grant and a £200,000 loan from the LTA, with support from Sport England.
At the official opening, Mr Draper said: “This is a fantastic facility that will allow young people and adults in North Tyneside, Newcastle and Northumberland to enjoy tennis all year round, and to develop their skills.
“We want to help more people play tennis from all parts of the community, and supporting affordable places to play like Churchill is a priority for us.”
To mark the official opening an afternoon of tennis was played on the courts, including an exhibition match by two of the local AEGON FutureStars, James Parkin and Donia Azziz.
Both have competed in various national events and are recently both winners of the girls and boys AEGON U10 National Tour titles.
Mary Glindon, MP for North Tyneside, also took part in cutting the ribbon, and said: “Churchill Community College and the LTA are to be congratulated on investing in such a fantastic sports facility in North Tyneside, and creating new opportunities for everyone to get involved in tennis.
“An indoor facility of this quality will encourage kids and adults alike to take up tennis and to play it all year round.
“I look forward to seeing an increased interest in playing tennis flourish in the area as a result.”
David Baldwin, headteacher at Churchill Community College, added: “We have formed an excellent partnership to provide a facility second to none in the area.
“Tennis@Churchill will significantly enhance the opportunities for students at Churchill Community College as well as the wider community.
“This new centre will be of huge benefit to the borough, the region and beyond, and I am delighted that such first-class facilities are available in the heart of North Tyneside.”
Mayor Linda Arkley added: “This new centre will inspire and support players of all ages and ability, as well as encourage newcomers to the sport.”
Richard Lewis, Sport England’s chairman, said: “It’s vital that public funding for sport goes into facilities that meet the highest standards, are welcoming, and cater for everyone.
“That’s how we’re going to get more people using them every day.
“The new facilities at Churchill Community College will offer even more accessibility for its members and encourage more people from the local community to get involved in the sport.”
The funding has been provided as part of British tennis’ facilities strategy, which has received substantial investment from Sport England.
This makes a contribution to the drive to increase tennis opportunities for people to participate, compete and get access to coaching at all levels of the game in communities nationwide.
The LTA makes financial support available through its resources and ensures investments will deliver the maximum return for British tennis.
There will be an increase in the number and standard of facilities nationwide which will be available to the whole community.
To find out where your nearest court is, visit www.lta.org.uk/playtennis