Preston's park tennis courts officially back in action, with hundreds already booked to play
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The facilities - on Moor Park, Haslam Park and Ashton Park - are all back in action, with the moment having been marked on Saturday by a ceremony attended by the city’s mayor.
The revamp of the courts has seen them resurfaced and repainted, along with the installation of new fencing, nets and gate access technology.
As previously announced by Preston City Council, a ‘pay and play’ court fee of £4 per hour has also been introduced, although free-of-charge sessions are available between 4 and 5pm seven days a week.
All courts are available to book via the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) website and the council says that the new system and gated arrangement means it is now easier to get on court by booking in advance to guarantee availability.
The income from what it describes as “the small fees charged” will ensure, the town hall says, that the courts “are maintained at their new high standard for years to come”. Half price concessions are available for a range of groups, including those on certain benefits, the under-16s and the over-60s.
The new-look courts will also host local tennis leagues, giving people the opportunity to get involved in friendly and social competitions.
The court refurbs have been funded by the government and the LTA, which have collectively stumped up £218,000, and the city council, which has made a £25,000 contribution.
Cllr Freddie Bailey, cabinet member for environment and community safety at Preston City Council, said that Saturday’s event was “fantastic”, in spite of the rain.
“We have a great partnership with the LTA, sharing an ambition to encourage more people to take up tennis and to be more active, all in the beautiful surroundings of our Green Flag parks,” he added.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Mein, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, added: “I’m delighted [that] around 250 people have already booked to play on our newly refurbished tennis courts in Preston.
“Park tennis courts are vital in providing opportunities for children and adults to play sports, delivering significant physical and mental health and wellbeing benefits to participants.
“Accessible facilities in parks are particularly critical to opening up the sport to those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and women and girls,” Cllr Mein said.
Through the Parks Tennis Project, the LTA is delivering the biggest ever investment in parks tennis facilities across Britain.
The LTA's chief operating officer, Julie Porter, said that Preston’s park tennis courts were now “in better shape than ever”.
“Public tennis courts are such vital facilities for getting active and we want as many people as possible, of all ages and abilities, to pick up a racket and enjoy playing tennis. Thanks to this investment, the sport will be opened up to more players for years to come.”