New court to inspire our future tennis stars

A new tennis court has been opened in Hambledon thanks to a grant from Sport England. (left to right), Project organiser Tony Higham, with Martyn Kille, Sarah Winter-Page, Di Glasgow and little Blake Hutchinson-Gates (five), who helped to unveil the new courts.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (131429-3)

A new tennis court has been opened in Hambledon thanks to a grant from Sport England. (left to right), Project organiser Tony Higham, with Martyn Kille, Sarah Winter-Page, Di Glasgow and little Blake Hutchinson-Gates (five), who helped to unveil the new courts.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (131429-3)

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TELEVISION presenter Fred Dinenage was on hand to help unveil a new tennis court in Hambledon.

Hambledon Parish Council got the project going after being awarded £28,000 from Sport England last year.

The green Tarmac court behind Hambledon Parish Church took six months to build.

It is hoped that the new court will encourage youngsters to start playing.

Fred, who has lived in the village for the past 40 years, said: ‘It’s a great facility for the community to use.

‘It’s such a special place.

‘This is just more proof of why it’s such a special place.

‘People can work and produce the money and the manpower to build a court that’s for everybody – for people who probably can’t afford private coaching.

‘It’s fantastic. There should be more of this. We will have our first Wimbledon champion from Hambledon.

‘We may have seen them this morning.’

Parish councillor Tony Higham has led the project since the idea first cropped up four years ago. He said: ‘There are very few tennis courts that the public can play on.

‘If we don’t give people the opportunity to play then how on Earth do we expect the sixth biggest economy in the world to produce decent players? Hambledon is the home of cricket so we have got a wonderful cricket club, but girls can’t play in that.

‘We don’t have any facilities for girls and ladies.

‘The tennis courts that are around are quite expensive.

‘If you are a young mum trying to keep the financial household afloat you can’t afford to send your children off to the tennis clubs.’

Resident Ena Brown is 101 and she used to play tennis.

She helped to cut the ribbon to open the court with local schoolboy Blake Hutchinson-Gates, five.

She said: ‘I have lived here all my life. I used to play tennis. This is somewhere for youngsters to go, instead of standing on street corners. I think people will use it.’

The facility is free to use and all equipment has been provided thanks to local donations.

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