"Something brand new": Club completes 3G pitch and looks to Hispanic racquet sport
PUBLISHED: 15:30 28 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:41 28 November 2018
A health and fitness club in Diss is due to unveil the first stage in an ambitious 20-year plan next week.
Heywood Health and Fitness Club is putting the finishing touches to its new five-a-side 3G pitch as well as new parking facilities at their premises near Diss High School.
These are the first in a series of planned improvements, including Norfolk’s first padel tennis court, a hugely popular sport in Spanish speaking countries.
Built in 1972, Heywood has a history of capitalising on sports crazes. Originally just two squash courts, the club rapidly expanded as squash gained popularity, including a gym and social area.
Tom Bobbins, owner and Diss resident, said: “In 2012 when I took it on it was kind of on its knees and quite different to as you see now. Late last year we actually purchased the land and the building. Having done that we could spend a bit more money on upgrading the facilities.
“With the thought of that I did some research into up and coming sports and found padel tennis. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world and Spain’s second biggest participation sport after football.
“There’s only 44 courts in the UK at the moment and the closest one to us is between Colchester and Chelmsford. With that in mind I thought let’s go for it, and went down and tried it for myself and absolutely loved it.
“Padel is a proper crossover between squash and tennis, getting the best bits of both, and it’s a lot easier to play than both. You serve from the hip after a bounce, and because the racquet has no strings you don’t get someone throwing balls at you at 100 miles per hour.”
The whole project will cost more than £220,000.
Mr Bobbins, 38, said: “It’s a big investment for us, especially as a small independent place. But we’ve done our figures and hopefully within the time frame we should get that money back.
“We’re looking at it as a 20 year project with this being phase one, with external upgrades first and then phase two will be within the club.
“We’re excited for Padel, which we will hopefully get done in March in time for summer - it will be something people haven’t seen before. Occasionally tennis players say they’ve played it on holiday but generally speaking it’s something brand new for the area.”