Only two years after it first launched, St Ann’s Tennis has won the Tennis Sussex Park Venue of the Year award.
Conrad Brunner, Claire Anderson and Jimmy Smith were among those present to collect the award at the Amex Stadium last night.
The award is testament to the extraordinary turnaround that St Ann’s Tennis has demonstrated since its revival began in 2019.
The eight courts in St Ann’s Well Gardens had long been in a state of severe disrepair and were deteriorating fast. However, in 2020, a new Community Interest Company was launched which embarked on a comprehensive refurbishment.
Electronic gates were installed alongside the LTA’s ClubSpark booking system; the courts were cleaned and painted, the nets and posts replaced and overgrowth removed.
Today St Ann’s Tennis has over 300 members and record court usage – averaging more than 80% in summer months. Competitive tennis has also been relaunched hugely successfully and in Summer 2022, St Ann’s Tennis won its first trophies in the Brighton & Hove Parks League – both Division 4 and an End of Season trophy.
There are now more than 3,500 registered players on the system and the club has five highly-qualified coaches – including Jimmy Smith, who was the LTA’s National Development Coach of the Year last year.
St Ann’s Tennis founder Conrad Brunner said: “This success shows that the Parks Club formula really works. St Ann’s Tennis is an open, inclusive public sports facility. We’re not a private club – anyone can book a court – and local tennis players are given a huge amount of encouragement.
“All local players are welcome to come along a free club session to see if they’re interested in joining. Pay and Play is also a huge part of St Ann’s Tennis. We work closely with the council and local stakeholders but are entirely self-funding. We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved which could not have happened without a lot of great support especially from our volunteer Club Secretary Clare Anderson.”
Having now won the Sussex award, St Ann’s Tennis will be automatically put through to the LTA’s regional awards. St Ann’s Tennis operates year-round and this year will be putting three teams into the Parks League as well as running an even bigger schedule of other competitive events.
Both Conrad Brunner and Jimmy Smith also won individual Tennis Sussex awards. Conrad won in the Connecting Communities category, for his work at St Ann’s Tennis, and with the Crew Club in Whitehawk. Jimmy won the Tennis For All award for his outstanding work as a community coach including competitions, junior groups and disability tennis.