Important new courts at Easton

For years British tennis players have struggled to compete in clay court events on the professional circuit; traditionally falling short against opponents who were raised on the surface as juniors.

The most popular surface in Europe, red clay is physically demanding with slow, high bounces making for gruelling rallies that suit heavy spin and incredible fitness. In fact, even a player's movement has to be adapted to allow sliding into shots while still under control.

Now, a new development at Easton College Tennis Centre means that Norfolk juniors will have an edge when developing their game.

A jointly funded project by the LTA and Easton College has seen the completion of four European red clay courts added to the existing eight indoor courts, the only red clay in the country aside from the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.

In recent years the LTA have tried to adapt the British tournament schedule to improve the clay court play of juniors, moving several high grade tournaments including some junior National Championships to American clay courts such as those at West Hants Club in Bournemouth.

In truth, these are no substitute for the real thing and when the NTC was opened in 2007 it included red clay among its varied surfaces.

You only need look as far as Andy Murray, whose success on clay is rare for a British player. Murray packed up and moved to Spain at age 15 to train on the clay courts of the Sanchez Casal academy.

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The College's Sports and Tennis Manager, Matt Breese said: 'We are very lucky that the LTA have agreed to fund half the project. Again the college has demonstrated its dedication to tennis by investing additional funds into the sport.'

The courts will also be used for regional and national training days as well as tournaments; from local adult events to national players travelling to Norwich to compete.