A tennis coaching programme undertaken in communities across Leeds has received a prestigious national accolade.
In recognition of the efforts made through the ‘Leeds Parks Community Tennis Programme’ to adapt to Covid-19 restrictions and inspire a new generation of adults and children to take up the game after lockdown, the initiative was named as the winner of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), 2021 Communities and Parks Award.
In announcing the prize, the programme, which is managed by Leeds City Council in partnership with the national governing body of tennis in the UK, the LTA, was also praised for its creative use of social media throughout the challenge of coronavirus to keep local communities engaged and updated, and their work to re-open park sites as soon as it was safe to so. This meant that both coaches and club players who were unable to play at their home courts were able to play and train, and those new to tennis were able to enjoy playing the game for the first time. Despite the restrictions in place through coronavirus, the Leeds Parks Community Tennis Programme was still able to secure almost 50,000 bookings across its park sites.
In scooping the award, the council fought off tough competition from other programmes currently being delivered across the UK to increase interest and participation in tennis. Now in its sixth year, the LTA awards celebrates the achievements and contributions of outstanding tennis volunteers, coaches, officials, venues and players across the country.
The focus of the community programme in Leeds is to promote tennis throughout the year for all age groups through social play, internal competition and the offer of professional coaching to any players that wishes to improve their general standard of play. Due to the current popularity of tennis in the city, the number of park sites has now increased recently from 10 to 13, with coaching also available at a number of locations. A tennis court reservation system, which allows members of the public to book online is also available for free.
Councillor Salma Arif, Leeds City Council’s executive member for public health and active lifestyles said:
“The Leeds Parks Community Tennis Programme is a wonderful initiative, and we are very proud therefore that it has been recognised with a prestigious prize at the LTA awards.
“The programme continues to move from strength-to-strength, and we have seen a fantastic rise in the number of bookings at our now 13 park sites which shows the great appetite that exists in Leeds to play tennis. This type of increase is testament to the hard work that has been put in by the team, especially during the testing times we’ve faced during coronavirus, to maintain a buzz about the initiative and to encourage people to book a site, coaching or course.
“Tennis is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities, and I would encourage anyone who is interested in taking up the sport to find out more about what is on offer through our parks community tennis programme.”
To find out more about the Leeds Parks Community Tennis Programme and how to get involved, please see: www.clubspark.lta.org.uk