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Earth Day 2024: Sustainability at the heart of Clubs and Venues

• 5 MINUTE READ

To mark Earth Day, a day to reflect on the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability, and its theme ‘Planet vs. Plastics’, we take a look at two tennis clubs who have followed the LTA’s lead and put sustainability at the heart of their venues.

The climate crisis, and the way our environment is being altered, has the potential to inflict significant and irreversible damage on tennis in this country, as well as on wider sport and society.

Coastal and inland river flooding threaten hundreds of venues, from one-court park venues to multi-court clubs; and increasing temperatures will also present a challenge for participating in tennis, as well as making it harder and more costly to maintain grass surfaces.

Recognising the threat changes to the environment pose, we launched our Environmental Sustainability Plan in 2022, laying out our commitment to becoming a more sustainable organisation and sport, and safeguard tennis for future generations. Since then, we have taken the lead for our sport in Britain, making our events cleaner and less wasteful, ensuring our operations use resources more efficiently, and making sure that clubs and venues across the country have the tools to play their part in an effort where everyone in the tennis community must come together.

We're proud of the way in which clubs and venues across Britain have embraced the need for sustainability, and Bramhall Queensgate Tennis Club in Stockport and Barnt Green Sports Club just outside Birmingham are two such examples. Through the LTA Pledgeball League introduced last summer, which sought to support, promote and encourage the uptake of sustainability practices by tennis venues across Britain, and those who play at them, these clubs have made a commitment to positive change.

Bramhall Queensgate Tennis Club

A six-court club based on the edge of Greater Manchester, Bramhall Queensgate Tennis Club have made sustainability a major priority for their operations and their membership. Having already made the switch to more energy efficient LED floodlights, installed solar panels on their clubhouse, and introduced club gear made from recycled plastic bottles, Chair Susan Pettigrew sought to turn the thinking towards the club’s members, as well as facilities.

Players on a green tennis court at night time, with floodlights illuminating the courts
Bramhall Queensgate have already installed more energy efficient LED floodlights to reduce costs, as well as solar panels on their clubhouse

“As a club we do think about the environment… we use very little paper, everything is pretty much online in terms of membership and we are careful about how much printing we do by way of flyers [and] we thought it was a good idea to try to encourage our members to think about their own personal sustainability.” Club members did just that, with the pledges made in August 2023 by members of the club equating, in terms of CO2 emissions saved, to driving 15,000 miles in an average petrol car.

Head Coach, Darren O’Donnell, commented that “a tennis club is like a little community within a community, so setting a good example can go a long way. Imagine if everyone at the club starts thinking about recycling, saving water or using less energy, that’s a lot of positive change”.

Bramhall Queensgate has planned a number of major upgrades to their site in the near future. By updating the electrics in their clubhouse and installing thermostats, the club hope to make significant savings on their electricity usage, while there are plans to upgrade facilities in club toilets and changing rooms, so that more up-to-date toilets, sinks and showers will help to reduce water consumption.

Susan feels it’s vital that clubs take the time to think about their impact on the environment. Having noticed increases in rainfall and flooding that directly impacts their courts, the club has had to construct a drainage channel to help stem the flow from neighbouring gardens.

"As tennis clubs we need to demonstrate the efforts we are making to encourage our members and the local community to think about their own sustainability, but most importantly, to set an example to our junior members in the hope that they will continue our efforts into the future."

Barnt Green Sports Club

“Until we stopped and thought about how our sport’s impact on the environment, we would never have imagined how we could make a difference by making some small and big changes. All clubs big and small can easily make changes to encourage their members to reduce their impact on the environment.”

Down the M6 from Bramhall Queensgate, Barnt Green Sports Club on the outskirts of Birmingham is a club that understands the importance of the environment. “If we can make a small difference through our choices at the club and at home then perhaps we can make a bigger difference with other clubs across the country for the future”, says Faye Edwards, one of Barnt Green’s tennis section volunteers.

A picture of clay tennis courts, with a rainbow visible in the background
With a setting as picturesque as this, no wonder members of Barnt Green are driven to protect the environment

The club has taken measures, big and small, to ensure they can be as sustainable as possible. These range from simple steps such as ensuring plentiful recycling bins and water fountains for club members to use, right through to choosing to refurbish the club’s clay courts rather than have them replaced entirely. With the theme of Earth Day in 2024 being ‘planet vs plastics’, the club has also taken steps specifically aimed at reducing plastic use around the club, with members encouraged to bring their own reusable water bottles to the club, and replacing their clay court sweepers from plastic, which kept breaking, to a more sustainable, longer lasting material.

After club members pledged to take actions whose CO2 emissions savings could fill more than 60 hot-air balloons, Faye, along with club coach Chris Davis, visited the National Tennis Centre and Wimbledon last autumn along with other representatives of clubs who had excelled in the LTA Pledgeball League, to partake in a discussion about how clubs are embedding sustainability in their operations.

“We were able to share our experience with refurbishing our courts which other clubs were very interested in, and it was enlightening to hear what other clubs were doing.”

A group of people sat around a white table, with a man, facing away from the camera talking to the wider group
Faye and Chris from Barnt Green were among a number of representatives from clubs and venues to be invited to the National tennis Centre after their strong performances in the 2023 LTA Pledgeball League

Faye believes that it’s important for tennis clubs everywhere to think about their environmental impact and what they could do to help.“Until we stopped and thought about how our sport’s impact on the environment, we would never have imagined how we could make a difference by making some small and big changes. All clubs big and small can easily make changes to encourage their members to reduce their impact on the environment from using refillable water bottles, to researching the possibility of court refurbishment rather than complete replacement.” 

The club has big plans to take their sustainability to the next level. The club’s current clubhouse is an older wooden structure, and while the club has installed solar panels, which are close to selling energy back to the grid, more is in the pipeline.

“We would like to rebuild our clubhouse as part of our strategic plan for the club” says Faye. “As an old wooden building it’s not heat efficient, and we’d love it to be greener, from energy consumption and energy production from further solar panels to perhaps even being built from recycled materials.”

The ambitions of both Bramhall Queensgate and Barnt Green to make their clubs more sustainable in the future are blueprints that we would love even more clubs and venues across the country to take inspiration from. It will take the entire tennis community to come together and work to ensure that we can secure a lasting future for tennis in Britain.

 

Sustainability in your venue

Support is available for tennis venues looking to be more sustainable. Find guidance template resources and more on our venue support page.

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