More indoor tennis courts for Scotland in £15m bid to build on Murray success

Tuesday December 20th 2016 at 1:11 PM

andy-murrayThe number of indoor tennis courts in Scotland is to double under plans to build a legacy on Andy Murray’s success.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and sportscotland have announced a £15 million project to “significantly increase participation” in Scottish tennis over the next decade.

It will see the number of covered courts rise to 225 from the current number of 112.

Sportscotland chief executive Mel Young said it is the “ideal moment” to capitalise on the success of Andy and Jamie Murray and wheelchair tennis star Gordon Reid, who all finished the tennis year as world number one in their discipline.

Participation levels have grown in recent years on the back of Murray’s success and Tennis Scotland has been struggling to cope with demand.

Despite producing world-leading players, Scotland has fewer indoor facilities than the rest of the UK, as well as Serbia, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland.

Sport leaders now hope an increase in covered courts – which are to be built across the country – will make a big difference.

Tennis Scotland chairman Blane Dodds said: “We’ve been working towards this for a while now and are delighted the LTA and sportscotland are supporting what we’re trying to do.

“The Murray factor has had an impact for years – membership has grown from 30,000 in 2007 to 54,000 currently but we think there’s still an opportunity for a massive step change.

“We still have capacity issues, we still have to turn people away from competitions, believe it or not, because we don’t have the capacity in terms of courts.

“With 112 indoor courts, we have one court for every 48,000 people in the country, that’s worse than the rest of the UK, which is one for every 26,000 people, and in turn that’s worse than Serbia, Germany, Holland, France and Switzerland.

“We need to make a difference there – we have the best players in the world from Scotland – and we need to give people the chance to play tennis, and this funding will make a massive difference.”

Tennis Scotland wants to hear from clubs, sports centres and universities that it could work with to create the new indoor facilities.

Mr Young said: “Participation has been growing and that’s one of the reasons why we’re doing this, because there’s a demand.

“We’ve been investing in tennis facilities over the past 10 years but this is really an extra on top of that and we’re really excited. It’s the biggest investment we’ve ever made in tennis in Scotland and it’s really significant.”

He added: “It is tremendous that in Gordon, Andy and Jamie we have three Scottish world number ones, and it is the ideal moment to capitalise on the sport’s popularity by helping to achieve further growth in this country.”

Reid joined tennis officials to announce the funding at Scotland’s national tennis centre in Stirling on Tuesday.

He is based at the centre but can remember the first courts he played on

“I first started playing at my local club in Helensburgh,” the 25-year-old said.

“It was outdoor facilities so it was nice and cold in the winter and playing through the rain now and again.

“I’ve been training here in Stirling for the last eight or nine years now so I know how important it is to have these indoor facilities.

“This is really exciting news and could make a big difference in the number of people playing.”

Applications from clubs and sports centres for indoor courts are to open in April.

Scottish Sports Minister Aileen Campbell said: “We have challenges around activity levels and that’s not just felt within our younger population, it’s about making sure we get our whole population active, and that’s not just good for their own health and wellbeing, it’s good for the NHS, the public purse more generally as well.

“So it’s about making sure that any investment that we put in sport in Scotland benefits the whole population, but in terms of young people this will give them the opportunity to find a pathway into the sport that they might not have had before.”

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