Emma Raducanu’s incredible victory at the US Open is a life-changing moment, not just for the teenager, who is now £1.8 million better off but for British tennis. It’s a huge opportunity and it would appear that she has already inspired many people to pick up a racket as all the courts near to where she lives are so booked up that she has been struggling to find anywhere to play since she got back.
As the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, clubs that have been able to invest in indoor facilities will no doubt be in high demand. The ability to offer a programme of tennis throughout the year and hire full-time coaches will be a huge advantage when trying to attract new members and with this sudden surge in popularity of the sport, we’re sure they’ll have no trouble.
This also comes at the same time as Sport England have announced that grassroots sports clubs can now access £5 million more National Lottery funding from their partnership with CrowdFunder. This will no doubt be a welcome boost for local communities looking to make sport more accessible and hopefully we’ll see more tennis facilities emerging as a result.
Scott Lloyd, Chief Exceutive of the LTA said this week that “opening up public tennis courts to the population is central to growing our sport” and he is looking for an investment from the government of between £15m – £20m to revamp local park courts, which would bring 40% or 1,800 of our courts back in to use. The predicted boom in British tennis failed to materialise after Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory in 2013 but we hope it’s a different story this time.
Being the first ever qualifier to win a Grand Slam tournament is extraordinary but despite being an individual sport, Emma Raducanu has clearly got a fantastic support team around her and we’d like to take a bit of the credit for her achievements. Andrew Richardson, who she hired ahead of the US Open and who she has credited for helping her prepare mentally for the big stage, used to be Head Performance Coach at Culford School. This is the same school where we designed and installed a six-court, LTA approved indoor tennis facility that now offers one of the finest tennis player development programmes in the UK. We’ll be dining out on this connection for years!!
Emma (we like to think we’re on first name terms now) also used to live near to the Appeti indoor tennis centre that we built but that link is probably a bit more tenuous! We’re excited to see what happens next for the sport and for Radacanu but in the meantime, we will NOT be putting our tennis rackets away for the Winter.