AMBITIOUS plans to build a £3.5 million indoor tennis centre in Grantham have been unveiled.
Grantham Tennis Club is behind the big project, which will serve the whole town.
Allowing non-members to use the current facilities on the Arnoldfield Sports Ground is not possible at the moment because there are too many members and too few courts.
But come May next year, and provided the plans are approved, families across the town and from further afield will be able to grab a racket and hit the courts, whatever the weather.
Coach Sarah Patton said: “We do play in the winter, but with 50 layers of clothing on and bobble hats. But when it’s raining we’re scuppered.
“I’m very passionate about people playing tennis, or any sport really. With schools playing less sport now, it’s down to clubs like us to pick up the pieces.”
The centre will feature four courts, a gym, class studios, a bar and a cafe, plus there will be a designated open area outside.
Another useful facility will be an education room. Sarah said: “Kids can come straight from school and do their homework before playing tennis. They can also get reasonably priced food from the cafe. They’ll be able to hang out here rather than wander the streets.”
Higher level tournaments could be played at the new centre, bringing people into the town who will be spending money elsewhere.
Sarah said: “I hope the town will get behind the plans.
“When we talk to people they have this notion that we all play in whites and it’s only for a certain class of person and we’re all eating cucumber sandwiches, but tennis is for everybody.”
The 4.8 acres of land in the sports ground is currently leased from South Kesteven District Council. To make the project worthwhile, a 99-year lease is being sought.
Sarah said: “The club is 100 years old. We want to set it up for the next 100 years.”
If the plans are approved, building will start in August and should be complete by May next year. The project will be funded privately and with grants from the Lawn Tennis Association.
Vincent Brittain is the CEO of Grantham-based sports charity Inspire+, and he believes the plans will be a “real boost” for the town.
He said: “Indoor tennis facilities are hard to come by and will vastly improve upon the existing provision available locally.
“Liaising with schools, I know that they are very keen to see the new facility built and believe it will support the development of their pupils.”
l The plans are currently undergoing consultation. Opinions should be made by January 20 by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org