All change for tennis at St Ann’s

The new tennis facilities at St Ann’s Well Gardens are now in action, the culmination of a two-year project to save the courts and ensure their future as a valuable community asset.

All eight courts at St Ann’s Well Gardens have been renovated and – with the full support of Brighton & Hove City Council – are now being run by St Ann’s Tennis, a new non-profit Community Interest Company.

Rob Walker, Head of Parks at Brighton & Hove Council said: “As council budgets have been reduced, the council can no longer keep facilities across the City in a usable state. Council officers were tasked with discussing how to deliver savings on sports provision with the users and agreeing the least damaging way of delivering them. As this has proved to be a long process, the tennis facilities around the City have continued to deteriorate during the process. After lengthy discussion with tennis clubs and the Lawn Tennis Association, a number of clubs/ Community Interest Companies [ CICs] have taken over the running of courts to save courts in their park.

“St Ann’s CIC has had to invest in the courts to get them into a reasonable state. All of the recent work carried out on the courts has been paid for by the CIC.”

In addition to upgrading all the courts, St Ann’s Tennis has introduced a new easy-to-use, online booking system – supplied by the Lawn Tennis Association – to ensure that the courts are properly funded.

ConradBrunner, who has led the team behind the launch of St Ann’s Tennis, said: “The tennis facilities at St Ann’s Well Gardens have been gradually deteriorating for many years and, in the last year, have fallen into such a poor state that we really were in danger of losing them altogether. This would have been a tragedy – tennis is incredibly popular in St Ann’s Well Gardens and has been for nearly 100 years. Thankfully the launch of St Ann’s Tennis means we can stem the tide of neglect and undertake much-needed renovation – as well as plan for the future.

“A self-funding management model means we can keep the courts in top notch condition. It’s been a real success at other courts in the city – such as Queens Park and Hove Park – and will assure the future of tennis in St Ann’s Well Gardens.”

Last month a skilled renovation team undertook a comprehensive clean-up of the courts. As well as removing moss and rubbish, all the lines were repainted and broken nets and posts replaced. In partnership with Brighton & Hove City Council, the extensive overgrowth on the north (Nizells Avenue) side is being cut back soon and brand new fencing will then be installed. We hope to resurface all the courts next year.

New easy-to-use, online booking system
ClubSpark, the new booking system supplied by the Lawn Tennis Association, is now live. Pay-and-play costs just £8.40 an hour (in line with existing council rates) and the courts are open to everyone. The new system will end the frustration of having to wait ages for courts to become free. ClubSpark is already used at hundreds of courts around the UK, including Queens Park and Hove Park. All players need to do is register with ClubSpark and they will then be able to book a court in seconds. Anyone can play at St Ann’s Tennis but joining St Ann’s Tennis Club only costs £100 a year and represents incredible value. (If you play once a month or more, you will have already covered the cost of booking courts.)

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