Navy link-up can fire Portsmouth tennis to new heights

Portsmouth Tennis Academy director Kevin Baker
Portsmouth Tennis Academy director Kevin Baker
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Portsmouth Indoor Centre has been backed to cement its place as the county’s number-one tennis venue after a £550,000 makeover.

The Portsmouth Tennis Academy have linked up with the Royal Navy in an ‘exciting’ partnership which bodes well for the sport’s future locally.

The centre in Burnaby Road has been handed a huge facelift and will be rejuvenated ahead of a new official opening on Friday, May 3.

The renovations have seen a new exterior put on the dome, along with new courts, car park, coffee shop, lounge and changing rooms.

It’s a big breakthrough for both the Academy and navy, with Academy director, Kevin Baker, delighted about what it means for tennis in Portsmouth.

Baker admits it has been a challenge for the Academy in recent years.

But the ambitious project now opens up new avenues moving forward.

Baker said: ‘We’ve gone into partnership with the Royal Navy – and that means an exciting future for the centre now.

‘We’ve managed to take it off the council and it will be moving on in the right direction.

‘I will be controlling and running the programmes. To have that control will make a huge difference.

‘I’ve been here 20 years and it has been a struggle at times in recent years.

‘But we’re really hopeful now and excited about what lies ahead.

‘If it wasn’t for the navy we wouldn’t have indoor tennis in Portsmouth.

‘They wanted to keep the facility going. But we haven’t been able to control the programme. Now it all changes, though, and we can do it exactly how we want to.

‘We will be able to offer better programmes and enable the players to play more.

‘It’s not just an elitist thing, either. We can open this up to everybody now.

‘It’s the right time for this change and it’s only going to get better.

‘We are the number-one centre in the county and will remain that.

‘We are the only centre in Hampshire and Isle of Wight accredited by the LTA. Now we can take things on and be really competitive in the way we coach.’

Navy men’s squad captain, Commander Nigel Bowen, believes the renovations deepen the link-up between the Academy and navy – and represents more positive news for sport in the city.

He said: ‘We have been working closely with the Portsmouth Tennis Academy.

‘It’s a great partnership between them and Navy Tennis.

‘The latest development is founded upon an existing partnership.

‘But now we are entering into a much more comprehensive agreement.

‘There’s been a lot of money been put into giving the whole place a face-lift.

‘This will widen coaching opportunities for navy players, give concessionary rates for navy players and will help develop the wider tennis playing community in the city.

‘The whole place has been re-done and there is a wow factor that is going to greet all users.’

For more details on the Portsmouth Tennis Academy and their programmes telephone (023) 9273 0082.