A consultation is underway for people to have their say about the future of tennis in Eastbourne.
The Tennis Development Survey is part of an initiative to get more people playing the sport and the results will help shape Eastbourne’s tennis offer.
Currently, tennis courts are significantly underused with only 7.7 per cent of Eastbourne’s population playing tennis on local community courts.
The tennis courts at Hampden Park and Old Town Rec are in poor condition and need an investment of £200,000 to bring them up to an acceptable playing standard.
To finance the refurbishment of the tennis courts, the council is seeking external funding of £130,000 from the LTA and Sport England to supplement money set aside from its capital programme.
The council has been working closely with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to produce a Community Tennis Scheme proposal to improve access to the sport, increase participation levels and secure finance so tennis courts are well-maintained in the future.
Councillor Carolyn Heaps, Cabinet member for Tourism and Leisure, said, “Eastbourne has a great reputation for tennis hosting one of the world’s prestigious fixtures, the AEGON International Tennis Championships.
“We want to make sure Eastbourne residents have access to the best quality tennis facilities available, encouraging more people to play, more often.”
To qualify for LTA investment, the use of the refurbished courts must be monitored through an online booking and key fob system.
The council must also set up a fund for the upkeep of the courts in the long-term to guarantee good quality tennis courts that are safe and accessible in years to come.
This fund income would be generated from introduction of the key fobs which give access to the courts.
Key fobs are to cost £45 per household per year, allowing full access for every household member to play as many times as they want seven days a week, 365 days a year.
There are a range of other benefits to members including British Tennis Membership worth £25.
In addition, 500 free key fobs would be available per year and within the Park Tennis Development Survey people are being asked how best these should be distributed.
Under this proposal, free tennis will still be available at Manor Gardens, although these courts are not being refurbished.
The survey runs until October, see www.eastbourne.gov.uk/tennis-development-consultation or a paper copy is available from Hampden Park Sports Centre, Cavendish Sports Centre, Shinewater Sports and Community Centre and Eastbourne Sports Park.