Havant tennis club welcomes back ‘smiling and happy’ players as site facilities reopen after lockdown closure

TENNIS players ‘desperate’ to get back to the courts are enjoying the sport in glorious sunshine as their Havant club welcomes back its members.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 12:00 am
Updated Monday, 29th March 2021, 5:43 pm
From left: Ashley Neaves, head tennis coach, and Binky Hallett, chairman of the club, at The Avenue Lawn Tennis, Squash and Fitness Club on Monday, March 29. Picture: Emily Turner

From this morning (March 29), The Avenue Lawn Tennis, Squash and Fitness Club on Southleigh Road has been able to reopen its gates to tennis enthusiasts.

As of today, formally organised outdoor sports with any number of people are permitted to be held as part of the route out of the coronavirus lockdown.

Binky Hallett has been chairman of the club for four years, and a member for 40.

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Tennis players enjoy the sunshine while on the court. Picture: Emily Turner

She said: ‘It’s fantastic to be back, there’s so much preparation that everyone’s been putting in.

‘Players have been desperate to get back.’

Last year the club marked 100 years at its current site, although the coronavirus pandemic prevented any celebration being held.

Ashley Neaves, head tennis coach at the club, said that he has been at the site since 9am this morning and has seen lots of players excited to start playing again.

He said: ‘I’m buzzing, we’ve been so lucky with the weather.

‘It’s so lovely to see people smiling and happy.’

Ashley won the LTA tennis coach award in 2017, the year he came to work with the club.

He added: ‘We’re trying to get members enjoying tennis again, and we want to get more families and people with different abilities enjoying the club.’

During lockdown, Ashley created a series of videos that were sent to 52 schools in the Havant and Waterlooville area to introduce them to tennis.

He said: ‘This gave us the chance to reach more kids, because we really want to grow the programme.’

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Club members hope that the squash and gym facilities, as well as the clubhouse and bar, will also be able to open soon.

Despite the challenges of lockdown, Binky is pleased that so many members have shown their support throughout this difficult time.

She said: ‘We might, if we’re lucky, break even this year - but so many people have stuck with the club.

‘Tennis helps people develop their social side, which is absolutely crucial.

‘It’s such a relief to be back.’

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