The aim is to boost participation in the sport and to encourage people to be more active.
Teignbridge Council has teamed up with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to refurbish public courts in Newton Abbot, Teignmouth and Buckfastleigh as part of a national drive to open up the sport and encourage more people to pick up a racket.
More than half the budget will come from a nationwide investment by the UK Government and LTA Tennis Foundation, delivered by the LTA, to refurbish public tennis courts across Great Britain, and open up the sport to many more people.
A Teignbridge spokesperson said: ‘This investment will see thousands of existing park tennis courts in poor or unplayable condition brought back to life for the benefit of communities across the country through renovation works, and improved court accessibility with new gate-access technology and booking systems.
‘The remainder of the funding will come from developer S106 planning contributions to Teignbridge.
‘Not only will the funding deliver quality, all weather facilities but by improving court access and booking systems, the investment will tackle many of the reasons people give for not taking up the sport as well as making it easier for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds to get involved.
‘Many people say that the uncertainty of getting on to a court, waiting for people to finish playing and the poor quality of the surfaces stops them from trying to play more often.
‘Over a 10 to12 week period, three courts at Forde Park in Newton Abbot will be refurbished followed by two at Duckspond Road in Buckfastleigh. The tennis court at Teignmouth Den and three at Newton Abbot’s Bakers Park will also be improved with work expected to start on May 22.
‘A new online booking platform – used successfully by local councils across the county – will be set up by Teignbridge which will operate an electronic access gate system which will allow people to book and pay online and provide them with a code to access the court.
The system will also link into the LTA website www.lta.org.uk/play making it easier for people to find and book a court.
An annual household family membership pass will cost £36 (for up to 10 family members) or infrequent players or visitors will be able to book at a cost of £6 per hour with rates discounted for those on income support.
Other concessionary rates could be introduced, for example for voluntary group activity or for schools. All money raised will go into a separate fund that will pay for future court maintenance.
Together with the LTA, the council will deliver organised free park tennis sessions for all ages, playing levels and experience where equipment will be provided and the expectation is that local tennis leagues will also provide sociable opportunities to get active.
Julie Porter, chief operating officer at the LTA, said: ‘We are delighted to be working with Teignbridge District Council to improve their park tennis facilities and provide more opportunities for anyone to pick up a racket and get active. This investment is part of the UK Government and LTA’s Parks Tennis Project and will mean that courts will be available for people to use for years to come. We will also be working closely with Teignbridge District Council to ensure that the local community have a range of accessible opportunities to get on court and open up our sport to many more people.’
Executive Member for Sport, Recreation and Culture, Cllr John Nutley, thanked the LTA for their support and looked forward to working with them in the future. ‘We share a common aim of wanting more people of all ages to get more active and tennis is a friendly way of doing this.
‘We would not have been able to refurbish the courts to such standards without the LTA’s expertise and I hope that once refurbished, the courts will enable a new generation of talent to come forward while allowing residents and visitors who enjoy the sport to play more easily and often.
‘To maintain the courts we need to introduce a charge but we have kept this as low as possible and all the money raised will be ploughed back into maintaining the courts and tennis related activities at them.’