A tennis success story is growing in Wisbech, as fantastic work from tennis club members combined with new LTA qualified coaches and first class courts is resulting in a surge in membership amongst all ages. It shows what can be done locally if we match passionate grass roots sports volunteers with state of the art new facilities, but it is far too isolated a case.
Wisbech Tennis Club secured two new all-weather courts last year facilitated by a £50,000 Inspired Facilities grant from Sport England, together with a new mini-court designed specifically for children, older and disabled players. Two previous bids had been turned down before I highlighted the case on the floor of the House of Commons and with the Sports Minister directly.
Encouraged by their new facilities, the club also fundraised the money for a new small wooden clubhouse with toilets and space for a table tennis table. Their Facebook site is regularly updated and has promoted new coaching programmes and opportunities for members, unlocking new followers.
The result has been spectacular, with a 50% increase in playing members with 82 juniors and 68 adults now members and many more participating in their regular coaching classes.
The club’s growth however is now constrained by having just two all-weather courts, as the two remaining courts remain grass courts without lights and so are both expensive to maintain and unplayable on many occasions due to poor light or recent rain. It will cost around £130,000 to convert these courts over to the all-weather surface that has proved such a big hit.
The club has received excellent support from the Cambridgeshire Lawn Tennis Association, and I understand they are so impressed with the club that they would fund half the cost of the outstanding work to convert the two grass courts if they club can raise the other £60,000 to £70,000 funds to partner this LTA money.
I am looking forward to working with the club in the months ahead to identify potential funders to help get this work done.
When you look at obesity rates locally, or the fact that 10% of the entire NHS budget is currently spent on diabetes alone, investment in getting people active makes not just health sense but also financial sense. It is also great for building a more integrated community and creating a quality of life.
If you have not yet been down to the club to see the new facilities, which are based next to the Hudson Leisure Centre, then I encourage you to do so. There is a great vibe and spirit at the club which is infectious.