Transforming Neath's Oldest Tennis Courts For The Next Generation

05/07/2021

| Tennis Wales

Tennis in Neath can be traced back to 1886, but in 2020 a group of local volunteers led the transformation of the local courts at Dyfed Road ready for the next generation of players to enjoy.

Neath Community Tennis was established to raise funds towards the upgrade of four derelict public tennis courts in the town. After the courts fell into disarray, volunteers from the local area came together to establish a plan of action to bring tennis back to their community. 

The group of volunteers worked with Tennis Wales and Sport Wales to raise over £130,000 in grant funding, develop a plan for the future, transfer ownership of the facility to the community group and install the latest technology. The voluntary team has transformed the tennis courts and in doing so, made it as easy as possible to book and play through Clubspark and an electronic gate, simply sending you a code to play whenever you book online.

“Our mission is to make tennis as accessible as possible and encourage as many people from the community to enjoy the sport at all levels. Installing an electronic gate has allowed us to keep the courts secure and effectively manage access for players who want to play via Clubspark,” said Roger Williams, one of Neath Community Tennis’ directors.

The newly refurbished facility launched in September 2020 and has since welcomed hundreds of people to tennis in the town. In the first 10 months, Neath Community Tennis welcomed adults and juniors into a low cost coaching programme, saw over 500 pay & play bookings, 89 annual subscriptions from local residents and raised more than £6,000 in revenue to invest back into community tennis. 

Local businesses and partners including Hornbill Engineering and Morgan Sindall have also supported the development of the scheme. Dragon Signs designed and installed branding and signage, showcasing the courts to local people in a vibrant way, making it clear how to book and play. Partnerships with community groups like the Urdd and Ysgol Castell-nedd have also driven people to pick up a racket, engaging the community to play through the medium of Welsh and English language. 

"Neath Community Tennis is an example of a modern and fit for purpose tennis site. It has online booking and payment, offers players the option to sign up and play all year, or just for the hour, and does great work with the local community to get new people playing and enjoying tennis".  

TOP TIPS

·      Online booking and payment systems such as Clubspark make playing tennis quick and simple for people to arrange. It's as easy as booking a seat at the cinema or shopping on your phone to play tennis in Neath.

·      The branding & signage helps showcase tennis, using imagery and artwork people can relate to, and gives them clear information on how to book and access the courts.  

·      Building relationships with the local community is vital. The Local Authority, business owners, schools and community groups such as the Urdd all support the tennis community to grow locally by providing information, funding, and encouraging their audiences to give tennis a go.

·      Neath Tennis’ online presence is modern, with great imagery of the courts, a clear website, and all the necessary information is available in both English and Welsh language where possible.

·      Offering pay & play has been a great way to encourage new people to play. Once people take part in a few ad-hoc games, many return to purchase an annual subscription. Offering both options gives the community more flexibility with their court bookings, and has helped to grow participation while safeguarding the future of the courts with all money raised going into the maintenance of the site and community tennis for local people.

 

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