Norfolk LTA aim to get 4,000 more people playing tennis by 2018

Will Bailey, 8, in action at one of the tennis coaching sessions at Eaton Park. Picture: Denise Bradley Will Bailey, 8, in action at one of the tennis coaching sessions at Eaton Park. Picture: Denise Bradley

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
9:42 AM

Bold plans to get another 4,000 people playing tennis regularly are being put into place in Norfolk.

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Will Bailey, 8, in action at one of the tennis coaching sessions at Eaton Park with head coach Karen Highfield. Picture: Denise BradleyWill Bailey, 8, in action at one of the tennis coaching sessions at Eaton Park with head coach Karen Highfield. Picture: Denise Bradley

The Norfolk LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) has agreed its overall objective for the next five years should be to try and increase its current 6,000 members of registered venues, to 10,000 by 2018.

With Andy Murray ending the 76-year wait for a men’s Wimbledon champion last summer, there has never been a better time to try and encourage people to pick up a racquet.

Richard Palmer, secretary of the Norfolk LTA, says the plans are not just about generating elite players, but about getting people to enjoy the game regularly at grassroots level.

“We feel it’s a great sport to get into; it’s really good fun, it’s enjoyable, you can play from a very young age and continue playing into your 80s and sometimes, if you’re lucky, even into your 90s,” Palmer said. “So it’s something we would really like to encourage people to take up as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Tennis open days

Opportunities to get into tennis will be provided on two weekends at venues around Norfolk.

Free open days are planned for the weekends of May 17-18 and July 19-20 by the Norfolk LTA, as part of the national campaign, The Great British Tennis Weekend.

Richard Palmer, secretary of the Norfolk LTA, explained: “We’re inviting clubs right around the county to engage in the county-wide open days. Their doors will be open for the public to come and try the sport, maybe rediscover it, maybe discover it for the first time.

“I’m sure they will have all sorts of deals that day to get you through the door, maybe reduced membership or no joining fee, things like that, so we’re looking forward to raising the profile of that.

“So come along and give that a try. Eaton Park will definitely be one of those venues and it will coincide with a national campaign which the LTA will be running right across the country.”

For more info, go to www.norfolktennis.co.uk

“There’s really just a huge untapped potential. Clubs aren’t the only places to play, there are tons of places and they’re all around the county.

“In the past I think we’ve not been particularly successful at encouraging people to play in those venues. We want to show that it is a sport for everybody, it’s not an exclusive sport, so we feel there is a lot of potential to get more people to come and enjoy it.”

National governing body the LTA is focusing on trying to get more people using courts at parks, schools and other community sites, as well as continuing to support established clubs.

And Palmer feels Norfolk has the facilities available for anyone that fancies trying out their serve.

“We’d always like things to be better – the current provisions in terms of courts and numbers doesn’t actually look too bad given the number of people playing at the moment,” he added.

“The quality can sometimes be variable and I guess the other missing link is really indoor facilities because Norwich is pretty much the only place where you can find an indoor court. So I suppose yes, if we could wave a wand and rustle up a few million pounds we would probably like to have some small indoor venues dotted around the county in strategic places.

“So that’s for later and we can try and help with raising some funds, but the key thing is to generate the interest, generate the demand and then hopefully that can provide a much better case for people putting money into that sort of stuff.”

Find your local tennis court at www.lta.org.uk/allplaytennis

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