LTA chief warns indoor tennis centres face closure if Government doesn’t assist with more funding
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is warning that at least a third of community indoor tennis centres in Britain could close without further financial backing from the Government.
The LTA supports a network of 54 centres, which have faced a substantial loss in income because of measures imposed to try to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
The latest tier two and three restrictions in England mean able-bodied adults in those areas can only play tennis indoors with members of their households or take part in one-on-one coaching sessions.
In Wales, the current firebreak lockdown means all sport and leisure facilities have closed, while indoor activity in Scotland is also limited.
The Government last week announced a £100million package of support for public leisure facilities but the LTA believes a lot more is needed.
Chief executive Scott Lloyd said: “While we welcome the recent Government announcement regarding investment into public leisure, this money will be spread thinly across a huge range of publicly owned sport and leisure facilities.
“Community indoor tennis centres play a pivotal role in supporting the physical and mental health of people in their local communities, but Covid-19 has left many in a perilous position.
“The current restrictions across Britain still mean the number of people who can use these centres is significantly less than in normal circumstances and this will continue to have a huge impact on their financial viability as we move into a difficult winter.
“As it stands, a large proportion of CITCs still face the very real prospect of closure, which would be catastrophic for tennis players up and down the country.
“We are calling for Government to deliver a comprehensive Sports Recovery Fund, which is needed to help protect these facilities and other venues with indoor tennis courts, which we know are facing huge challenges over the coming months.”
The LTA has received support from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, with its chair, Julian Knight, visiting Tudor Grange Tennis Centre in Solihull earlier this month.
Knight, the MP for Solihull, said: “Visiting my local tennis centre with the LTA last Friday brought home to me the immediacy of the issue we face.
“The centre employs a number of passionate, dedicated employees who deliver a fantastic service in helping to keep the local community active through tennis – a safe and socially distant sport.
“It is imperative that we protect these vital facilities over the coming months and into 2021, as their closure would result in huge vacuums in many communities across the country and have a significant impact on the nation’s health and wellbeing.”
Tennis was one of the first sports to be allowed to resume following lockdown because players are naturally socially distanced, and there is immense frustration that indoor exercise classes are being allowed to continue for people from multiple households while tennis is not.
Toby Perkins, the MP for Chesterfield and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tennis, said: “It is completely illogical that adults are allowed to take part in a gym class indoors in a group of 30 people but can’t hit a ball over a net to someone outside of their household or bubble on an indoor court.”
The governing body said it has been contacted by clubs with indoor facilities that expect to lose up to GBP 100,000 over the coming weeks.
Sarah Langford, the general manager of Bromley Tennis Centre, said: “Community indoor tennis centres such as ours already face high running costs and tight finances.
“With the implementation of these new restrictions, the resulting financial implications are significant. Although our team remain committed to, and passionate about, providing tennis opportunities to everyone, these restrictions negatively impact our efforts and the role we play in our community.”
The restrictions are especially disappointing because grass-roots participation in tennis, which has been one of the areas where the LTA has faced most criticism, has risen sharply this year.
Court bookings between May and July were up 372 per cent from the same period last year while participation for September was seven per cent higher than in 2019.
Andy Murray gets Cinccinati boost, but handed tricky opener against old foe with Cameron Norrie also lurking
Andy Murray handed tough assignment in Cincinnati.
Dan Evans vs Pablo Carreno Busta: How to watch Montreal semis as Evans looks to sneak into ATP top 20
A quick lowdown on the Canadian Masters semi-final and possible ATP Ranking changes.
Rafael Nadal ‘happy to be in Cincy’ as he finds out his path to possible glory at ATP Masters 1000 event
Rafael Nadal good to go in Cincinnati.
Nick Kyrgios ‘doesn’t care’ about records as he admits parents’ illness and fatigue are weighing him down
Nick Kyrgios not concerned about his winning streak coming to an end as he is more worried about his parents.
ATP Cincy draw: Daniil Medvedev and Nick Kyrgios could meet again, Dan Evans in line to face Stefanos Tsitsipas
This way for the draw of the 2022 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
Simona Halep ‘stays strong mentally’ to hold off ‘super nice and future Grand Slam champion’ Coco Gauff
Simona Halep overcomes edgy second set to beat Coco Gauff.
WTA Cincinnati draw: Emma Raducanu to face Serena Williams in dream opening match
The Cincy draw has dished up a big one: Emma Raducanu vs Serena Williams
Dan Evans continues his dream run to reach Montreal semi-final
He will face Pablo Carreno Busta after the Spaniard defeated British qualifier Jack Draper in straight sets.
ATP Rankings: Casper Ruud threatens career-best ranking
Casper Ruud is on the brink of a career-best ranking.
Hobbled Nick Kyrgios lets rip on ball boys in Montreal
Quick serves and a quicker temper from Nick Kyrgios.