The man in charge of British tennis has given his seal of approval to a partnership between Tennis Shropshire and Shrewsbury Town Council to help re-establish a tennis programme at Monkmoor Recreation Centre.
Michael Downey, the chief executive of the LTA, called in at Monkmoor along with the Mayor of Shrewsbury, Councillor Beverley Baker, during a busy visit to Shropshire last Friday and said he was very impressed with what he saw.
Tennis Shropshire and Shrewsbury Town Council have agreed to jointly fund an upgrade of the tennis facilities which will see the courts repaired and repainted to leave three proper courts, one of which will have mini-lines for mini-tennis for juniors.
Mr Downey, previously in charge of Tennis Canada before joining the LTA nine months ago, said: “This is what I love to see in tennis, when you see a club being out reached, working in the parks, working in the schools.
“That’s what’s really, really critical and that’s what tennis and all sports need, that integration that people are seeing the benefits of their sports in other venues.
“It’s great to see this in an area which is an important growth area in the town, seeing kids that may not have the same type of opportunities as others have being able to play tennis.
“It’s great to see what’s happening here because tennis is a great sport and it’s for everyone.”
Laura Oakes, who runs Crosscourt Tennis Club at Monkmoor Recreation Centre, said the support of Tennis Shropshire and the Town Council was a major boost to tennis in the area.
“I set the club up about six months ago because there’s so many kids that wanted to play in competitions,” she said. “We’re really enjoying it here and we’re getting so many kids that would never get the opportunity to play tennis. The club is going from strength to strength each week.
“We cater for just about every group, from youngsters as little as three, and I’ve got adults who are in their 50s, so we’ve got a really big age range. We’ve got all age groups and abilities covered.
“It’s a really exciting what’s happening here. We’ve got the floodlights and it’s great that the courts will be made nicer and that they won’t be slippy when it rains or it’s icy. The facilties will be playable all year round which is what a grassroots club really needs to be able to play.
“You can’t really ask for much more as a grassroots club to have the chief executive of the LTA come and visit us so we are privileged to have seen him here.”
She added: “We’re getting lots of help from Tennis Shropshire and they’re being really supportive because their new initiative is grassroots tennis and this is exactly what it encompasses.
“They’ve been really helpful, supporting us with getting into different schools, giving us all the contacts we need and also providing us with some tennis rackets and tennis balls which is always nice because it can be quite expensive.”
Chris Hinks, the chairman of Tennis Shropshire, stressed he was excited about the prospect of the Monkmoor Recreation Centre becoming a thriving tennis venue in the town.
He said: “We are going to help Laura to get a programme up and running, get kids out of the local schools like Belvidere to come along while we will also aim to get more adults coming down to play.
“We want to really help get affordable tennis going again in this part of the town.”
Helen Ball, the town clerk for Shrewsbury Town Council, added the partnership with Tennis Shropshire made perfect sense.
“We’re really keen because we maintain a lot of sporting facilities across the town and we want people from all walks of life to use them,” she said.
“By joining forces with the likes of Tennis Shropshire, if we can work in partnership so we can use our expertise, they can use their expertise, it’s win, win all round.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about the coaching sessions being run at Monkmoor Recreation Centre by Crosscourt Coaching can contact Laura Oakes on 07976 526058 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured at Monkmoor Recreation Centre are, from left: Laura Oakes, from Crosscourt Coaching, Mike Cox, the outreach recreation and asset manager for Shrewsbury Town Council, Tim Baker, the Mayor’s consort, Chris Hinks, chairman of Tennis Shropshire, Deputy Mayor of Shrewsbury, Councillor Miles Kenny, Mayor of Shrewsbury, Councillor Beverley Baker, Michael Downey, the chief executive of the LTA, and Helen Ball, town clerk for Shrewsbury Town Council.