Park tennis courts in Exeter – most popular in UK
Published: 9 November 2021
Free tennis sessions in an Exeter park have been rated the most popular in the country, Exeter City Council has revealed.
The Tennis For Free (TFF) sessions at Heavitree Pleasure Ground have been ranked number one in the UK for participation.
The weekly sessions are run by national sports charity Tennis For Free in partnership with the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) and Exeter City Council.
TFF Coach Bradley Rickard runs the Saturday morning sessions from 10am to 11am, with help from volunteer Ardal.
The sessions are proving so popular they are continuing throughout the winter months.
Equipment is provided for those who don’t have a racket and no experience is necessary.
Just this year, the Heavitree sessions have attracted some 793 attendances and 7,913 since sessions begun eight years ago.
Heavitree TFF Co-ordinator Penelope Moore, said the sessions had averaged 35 to 40 people every week and they were now able to welcome under 12s back, due to the easing of Covid restrictions.
“We have created a real community hub and the Council have been very supportive of the project and are determined to keep the principal of free open courts to the public which addresses social inclusion and breaks down the financial barriers and maximises usage of the tennis courts,” she added.
For Penelope, a former international tennis player who has played at Wimbledon and other Grand Slams in the 1970s, the success of the sessions is all the more sweeter, as she began her tennis career on the Heavitree courts many years ago.
“I have a sentimental connection with the Heavitree courts as it was where I was picked by the regional coach for free coaching as a child and won the Heavitree Park Junior Under 14 back in the day!”
Cllr Duncan Wood, Lead Councillor for Leisure & Physical Activity, said: “It’s great news that the Heavitree sessions are proving so popular.
“The courts are open all year round to anyone who wants to play, regardless of age or ability and are a great way to be active and stay fit and healthy.”
To get involved in Heavitree’s TFF sessions on Saturday mornings visit the TFF website at https://www.tennisforfree.com/sites/heavitree-pleasure-ground/
TFF also run sessions on City-Council runs courts at Cowick Barton Playing Fields with Lead Coach Steve Ashton. However these sessions have stopped for the winter but will start up again in the spring.