Serving up tennis for free in Exeter
Published: 11 September 2018
People are being encouraged to play tennis for free on newly refurbished courts in Exeter.
Special ‘turn up and play’ sessions have been organised on courts at Cowick Barton Playing Fields, with free tuition from a qualified coach thrown in for good measure.
The City Council is working in partnership with Tennis for Free and local community programme Exwick Tennis Hub to offer the informal sessions on a weekly basis.
The sessions start on Saturday 15 September from 9am to 10:30am and anyone can get involved, including those new to the game, keen to meet other local tennis players or to simply enjoy an opportunity to be active with the family. People don’t even need a racket or ball as all equipment is provided free of charge. Sign up for the Saturday morning sessions at www.tennisforfree.com
Exeter City Council recently paid for the tired-looking courts to be resurfaced. Cllr Phil Bialyk, Lead Councillor for Health and Wellbeing, Communities and Sport, said: “Getting active doesn’t have to cost the earth and with these fabulous new courts free to use and right on your doorstep, it makes sport so much more accessible.”
National comedian and Tennis for Free founder, Tony Hawks, said: ““We set up Tennis For Free to try and make tennis a game that can be played by anyone regardless of background and income. We would love to help build a thriving ‘tennis community’ in Cowick Barton so that those who live nearby can benefit from a healthy and fun pastime without it hitting them in the pocket."
It’s not the first time that Tennis for Free have worked in Exeter alongside the City Council. A similar initiative has been running at Heavitree Pleasure Ground for some time after the local courts were resurfaced.
Tennis For Free has plans to bring more than 175,000 new tennis players, 2,000 coaches and 5,000 volunteers into the sport over the next five years. The charity, which runs free community tennis sessions at public parks across the UK, is working with several partners to bring the opportunity to play the game to as many hard to reach communities as possible, benefiting those with limited access to sport, enhancing physical and mental well-being and re-energising people of all ages. The new partnerships will boost the network of free tennis schemes by hundreds nationwide, launching in Wales and Northern Ireland as well as increasing its sites in England and Scotland, making it a truly national community led programme.
Steve Ashton, of Exwick Tennis Hub, will be delivering the weekly sessions on the Cowick Barton courts. He said: “I’m really looking forward and excited to be delivering the TFF sessions at Cowick Barton. It’s a fantastic opportunity for people of all ages and of all abilities to benefit from some free tennis in the community. Everyone is welcome and all equipment is provided. I look forward to seeing people there.”
Helping families be active together is a key part of the recently announced Exeter and Cranbrook Sport England funded programme, with parks and open spaces playing a key role in hosting activities for people of all ages. Communities will be invited to join a conversation about activities in parks later in the year.