Game, set and match - new tennis courts served up in Leith

The public tennis and petanque courts on Leith Links were officially opened with a match played by local schoolchildren this morning (Thursday October 31).

Pupils from Leith Primary and St Mary's RC Primary schools enjoyed a game on the new £80,000 courts just after they were opened by Environment Convener Cllr Lesley Hinds.

Also at the launch ceremony were Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport Shona Robison MSP, sportscotland chief executive Stewart Harris, Tennis Scotland president Christine Windmill and representatives from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).

The facility fills a gap in public tennis provision in Edinburgh, with no other similar facilities in Leith. Planned activities include an on-going focus on working with local schools, free taster sessions for schools and adults next spring, summer holiday courses, Tennis Leader courses for secondary school pupils, and weekend and after-school sessions later in 2014. In addition, local people will also have the opportunity to improve their petanque skills in the new terrain provided.

Council Parks' officers, in partnership with the Leith Links Steering Group was the driving force behind the project, The steering group is made up of Greener Leith members, local councillors, Council officers and local sports' representatives. The facility was built by Doe Sport Ltd in association with the Council using grants from Sportscotland (£38,000), the LTA (£30,000 and the East of Scotland branch of the LTA (£1,000).

Councillor Hinds said: "It is very exciting to see this project become a reality and it is fantastic to see this area being used for such a worthwhile facility. Tennis is a great all-rounder - it's fun, healthy, sociable and thanks to venues such as this, it's also very affordable. The Council sees these new facilities on Leith Links as a catalyst for further improvements to this historic park and will be working closely with local schools and community to realise these in the near future.

"Scotland has already produced a Wimbledon champion and who knows, a future champion could be moving up the ranks in Edinburgh thanks to affordable facilities such as this."

Commonwealth Games and Sports Minister Shona Robison said: “I’m delighted to be here today at the opening of the new tennis and petanque facilities at the Leith Links Bowling and Tennis Hub. This project has benefited from £38,000 of Active Places funding, and will greatly enhance the activities currently on offer and attract more users to the area. It will additionally allow for more coaching in tennis, and provide a home for school clubs. 

“The Legacy 2014 Active Places Fund will help communities across Scotland improve their facilities and will appeal to Scots young and old to get more active. I want as many people as possible to benefit and to be inspired by the Commonwealth Games athletes, as well as role models such as Andy Murray, to adopt healthier, more active lives.”

Mr Harris said: “With the Commonwealth Games less then a year away, it is fantastic to see one of the first Active Places legacy projects being delivered here in Leith.

"In Scotland we now have the best sports facilities we have ever had, serving the needs of the whole sporting system from schools and clubs right through to high performance athletes. To have a centre like this, right at the heart of a community, will undoubtedly have a very positive impact on the lives of local residents, creating more and better opportunities to incorporate sport into a healthy, active lifestyle."
 
Peter Gordon, Tennis Development Manager for Tennis Scotland, said: "Leith Links is one of the first projects in a programme to build community tennis facilities across Scotland to offer people of all ages the opportunity to play tennis in their local community. With the support of our key partners the LTA and Sportscotland, we will be working with Edinburgh and other local authorities to regenerate park tennis sites across the country."

Les MacLean, managing director of Doe Sport North, said: "Bringing sport to the community is important for everyone. A high quality environment like this encourages participation which is a very worthwhile legacy, and I'm glad that Doe Sport North can be part of that.”

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