Easton sees red in time for holidays

Easton College Tennis Centre is about to become one of just two facilities in England to boast European red clay courts.

The project, which is jointly funded by the LTA and Easton College, is due for completion at the end of the month, just in time for the school holidays.

Currently, the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton is the only location available for those who wish to train on the surface; most clay courts in Britain are green, 'Har-Tru' American clay and are not as slow as the real thing.

Red clay is the most physically demanding surface to play on and, traditionally, British players struggle against European or South American players who are adept at the specialist movement required to be successful.

Indeed, the world's best learned their trade on red clay courts: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic all grew up on clay while even British number one Andy Murray left home at 15 to train at the Sanchez Casal Academy in Barcelona.

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The need to introduce elite players to red clay at the earliest opportunity is highlighted by the fact that it is the most prominent surface on the professional tour with one Grand Slam, three Masters Series, three ATP 500 and 14 ATP 250 tournaments over the course of the year for men. There are six grass court tournaments in total, including Wimbledon.

Easton College Tennis Centre has now been fully operational for almost two years and already has eight indoor tennis courts and a new strength and conditioning suite for the elite players.

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Easton College's Sports and Tennis manager Matt Breese said: 'We are very lucky that the LTA have come in and funded half the project. Again the College have demonstrated their commitment to tennis by investing additional funds into the sport.

'The courts will be used for regional and national training days as well as tournaments from local adult events to national with players travelling to Norwich to compete on this very rare surface.'

The Centre has set up a specialist clay court training week in the summer from August 15-19 for more experienced players to learn from the performance team at Easton.

There will also be a week-long tournament for age groups eight to 18 and under on the week commencing on Monday, August 8.

For information on the new clay courts and tennis at Easton call 01603 731302.

• Norfolk's Richard Bloomfield came through qualifying yesterday to book his place in the first round proper of the Campbell's Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, Rhode Island.

Bloomfield, who reached the semi-finals of the event last year, beat second seed Rajeev Ram of the USA 6-7, 7-6, 6-3 in just under 2 hours in the final round of qualifying.

The main draw gets underway today with big names such as John Isner, Grigor Dimitrov and Tommy Haas all in the field alongside Bloomfield who will have to wait to find out his opponent.

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