No Wimbledon, no worries for tennis participation in Yorkshire, say LTA
Tennis in Yorkshire will miss the spike in participation that usually comes with the advent of Wimbledon but with gyms and other leisure facilities still closed, there has been an increase in people playing the sport post lockdown.
Gavin Sutcliffe is a partnership development partner with the Lawn Tennis Association and says that smaller, volunteer-run clubs in Yorkshire have benefitted from being one of the few sports that can be played while observing social distancing measures.
Larger clubs in the region, with leisure and gym facilities are counting the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic while free-to-play park venues have seen more people taking to the courts.
“We have benefitted from being one of the last sports to shutdown and one of the first sports to open back up,” said Sutcliffe.
“The challenge is for the larger clubs, who have gyms and studio spaces because that side of things have not been able to open up but with a lot of the small clubs and the park venues, a lot have seen a significant upturn on people playing tennis.”
He added: “I think tennis and golf have benefitted from this.
“The LTA have got booking platforms online, so that helped with social distancing and people not gathering at park sites.”
Wimbledon was due to start yesterday but was cancelled for the first time since World War Two due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Sutcliffe admits that the tournament is usually the LTA’s “shop window” to increase participation numbers, however the nature of the sport has meant it has proved a popular choice for those looking to stay active.
“We have nine park sites in Leeds in our free booking system,” added Sutcliffe.
“From the period of May 15 to the end of May last year we had around 600 people booking but this time around it was approximately 6,500.”
The LTA has launched a ‘Back to Tennis’ campaign to encourage more people to pick up a racket.
To find out more and to book a court in your area visit, www.lta.org.uk/play-compete/back-to-tennis.