‘Even when Andy Murray won Wimbledon it wasn’t this busy’ –interest sky high as tennis players return to the courts

Tennis made a welcome return as part of the Government's latest step to easing lockdown restrictions today.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 6:18 pm
Everyone for tennis! From left - Deb Prytherch, Kate Wharton, Heidi Leaver and Justine Sayer ready to play again at the Southsea club today. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Clubs across England were permitted to welcome back players on courts up and down the country.The weather could not have been much better for the tennis resumption either, with beautiful blue skies and sunshine showering courts.Clubs across our area - and the nation - opened for the first time and the rates of interest were through the roof with people keen to get back playing sport outside.The News managed to gauge how the first day back has gone for three tennis venues within the city:Canoe Lake Leisure director John Cooke‘It’s a combination of the weather and the pent up demand - I’ve never known our courts booked so quickly and so many courts booked. Even during Wimbledon and when Andy Murray was winning Wimbledon it wasn’t this busy.'This is the busiest I’ve ever known in my 20 years of coaching and running a tennis club.‘There’s only a few slots remaining for this week and that’s over eight tennis courts, and then we’ve got another eight courts in addition to that opening in April when the grass courts can happen.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

‘There’s a continued interest in outside sports at the moment; tennis lends itself to social distancing, I think people appreciate that part of it and it’s a non-contact sport so it’s one of the safest sports you can play.‘There are still measures in place so we have to be very observant of those and the members and players appreciate that and enjoy themselves.'Portsmouth Tennis Academy tennis director Kevin Baker‘Our mini-tennis programme over the Easter holidays is fully booked as well so the bounce back has been brilliant.‘From the point of view of parents and the older kids wanted to come back, it’s just been a no-brainer - so many just want to get out.'You couldn’t have a better day, it’s beautiful, and this week, hopefully, it’s going to be like this.'Our full programme restarts on April 19 - that’s the end of the Easter holidays - and we’re filling up those spaces already.'Southsea Tennis Club business administrator Simon Marshall‘It’s been three months with people cooped up and not being able to do stuff, so it’s great to see people exercising in the sunshine.‘I walked past this morning and the courts were quite busy; especially with the weather this week, it’s looking quite good.‘Members have been very tolerant of the fact that our social activities and all the stuff that usually goes with the membership (can’t take place), so it’s nice to be able to have a good run at it, hopefully.'

Players were back on the courts at the Southsea Tennis Club today. Picture: Habibur Rahman