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LTA President hails the rise of South West Tennis

LTA President hails the rise of South West Tennis

The President of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), Peter Bretherton, travelled to six tennis providers on a two-day tour of the south west in August and was on hand to present Dragon Leisure Centre in Bodmin with the prestigious Beacon award.

As well as Dragon Leisure Centre in Bodmin, Peter Bretherton was shown around facilities at Wadebridge Lawn Tennis Club and Heron in Cornwall, and Esporta Devonshire Plymouth, South Devon Tennis Centre in Ivybridge and David Lloyd Exeter in Devon.

The LTA and Tennis Foundation announced the awarding of Beacon status to Dragon Leisure Centre as part of the AEGON Parks Tennis programme in recognition of their high quality, affordable community tennis programmes.

The club joins 169 sites across the country to achieve the national accolade which recognises the best community-focussed facilities offering free and affordable tennis as part of the AEGON Parks Tennis programme.

To achieve this status, facilities must also offer access to quality, affordable coaching as well as regular competitions for all ages and abilities.

Peter Bretherton said: "The quality of the tennis facilities I have seen through the region are of a very high standard and that is enhanced by the awarding of the Beacon status to Dragon Leisure Centre.

"I'm delighted to be here to present it and it's testament to the hard work that has been done at this centre in recent times.

"Tennis in the south west can really flourish as a result of awards like this one and I'm confident that it will encourage even more people to pick up a racket and play the sport."

It proved to be a double celebration for Dragon Leisure Centre as they opened brand new facilities during Peter Bretherton's visit.

The club has resurfaced four existing courts on the site thanks to a LTA grant of £15,500, with support from Sport England, towards the total cost of £32, 979 with the remaining funding provided by Cornwall Council.

Richard Lamboll, Manager of Dragon Leisure Centre in Bodmin, said: "We are very proud to be recognised through the LTA and Tennis Foundation Beacon status as a facility that offers the local community access to free tennis plus quality, affordable coaching for all ages and abilities.

"It is testament to Cornwall Council for their commitment to tennis and especially the investment into improving facilities at the Dragon Leisure Centre.

"I am delighted that the work to improve the facilities and the tennis development programme has been officially recognised through this award. The Centre has done an outstanding job providing tennis playing opportunities to the local community.

"To have such an accessible, quality pay and play tennis facility in the Bodmin is wonderful. We are keen to attract local people to come and try tennis, and with no barriers to entry into the programme with our 'first session free scheme' on all coached session."

AEGON Parks Tennis aims to increase community access to tennis in parks and communities nationwide. Delivered by the LTA and Tennis Foundation, AEGON Parks Tennis is a key programme in British tennis' drive to increase participation and grow tennis at all levels. The long-term aim is to have an AEGON Parks Tennis site acting as a centre of community tennis excellence in each of the local authority areas in Britain.

The funding for Dragon Leisure Centre in Bodmin has been provided as part of British Tennis' facilities strategy which has received substantial investment from Sport England. This makes an important contribution to the drive to increase tennis opportunities for people to participate, compete and get access to coaching at all levels of the game in communities nationwide.

Richard Lewis, Sport England's Chair, said: "It's vital that public funding for sport goes into facilities that meet the highest standards, are welcoming, and cater for everyone. That's how we're going to get more people using them every day.

"The new facilities at Dragon Leisure Centre in Bodmin will offer even more accessibility for its members and encourage more people from the local community to get involved in the sport."

Joan Symons, Cornwall Council's Cabinet Support Member for Culture and Leisure added: "I am delighted that the LTA have recognised the community tennis programme we deliver from Dragon Leisure Centre in Bodmin with the award of a Beacon Status.

"The programme has been a huge success with local people and I would like to thank the officers involved for their hard work."

The LTA makes financial support available through its resources and ensures investments will deliver the maximum return for British tennis through more people playing and more hours on the court across Britain. There will be an increase in the number and standard of facilities nationwide which will be available to the whole community at a reasonable, affordable cost.

To find a playing partner, a local court or coach, register at www.allplaytennis.com