No indoor court means disadvantage to junior Borders tennis players

A leading local tennis coach has warned the present set-up for junior players in the Borders could collapse unless proper indoor facilities were provided.

By Ralph Mellon
Thursday, 20th February 2020, 4:15 pm
The campaign continues to bring indoor tennis courts to the Borders - while there are signs that plans could be in hand.
The campaign continues to bring indoor tennis courts to the Borders - while there are signs that plans could be in hand.

Severe weather has put paid to a recent number of proposed tournaments and friendly matches, causing disadvantage and disruption for many of the area’s young players.

Junior district coach Jonny Adamson insists the lack of indoor amenities in the region is threatening the existing high standards among local young players, their motivation and interest in the sport, plus the whole future of the junior game’s structure.

One of the game’s governing bodies, however, has indicated the wish could be granted – possibly within the coming decade.

Tennis Scotland said a funding programme was being worked on and a potential site in the Borders identified.

Mr Adamson, however, feared the lack of roof-covered courts was already taking its toll.

“Over the course of the weekend, three junior competitions and a friendly match with Dumfries and Galloway were cancelled, alongside several coaching sessions,” he said. “In total, almost 80 junior players, aged 7-16, including some who were due to travel from across Scotland and northern England, were left without any tennis.

“The cancellations follow what has been a challenging few months of weather, which has severely restricted opportunities for local junior players of all ages and impacted upon the region’s ability to attract other players and develop the game.”

There were eight Scottish districts, three of which – Borders, Highlands and Dumfries & Galloway – did not have indoor amenities. The nearest venues for the Borders were at Craiglockhart, in Edinburgh, or Prestwick, in Ayrshire.

Mr Adamson added: “It’s bitterly disappointing that the Borders continues to lag so far behind other parts of the country when it comes to having adequate tennis facilities for our youngsters.

“Instead of celebrating a successful weekend of tennis activity, we once again seriously risk falling further behind.

“We have an incredible team of volunteers, coaches and officials within our tennis community who are working harder than ever to create opportunities for kids across our region. However, that level of enthusiasm, dedication and ambition is simply not being matched by the infrastructure and resources being made available to us.

“Nobody should have less access to opportunities based on their postcode. Why should someone who grows up in Edinburgh, Stirling or Glasgow have more chances to play tennis and succeed than those in the Borders?

“Scotland has been hugely successful in tennis over the last 20 years but, during that time, no progress has been made in the Borders to achieve parity with other parts of the country.

“We urgently need Tennis Scotland, Live Borders and sportscotland to provide more investment and support to Border tennis – or else the current set-up will fold completely.”

A spokesman for Tennis Scotland said: “Tennis Scotland, sportscotland and the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) are working together to deliver the Transforming Scottish Indoor Tennis Fund, which will see a significant investment into Scottish tennis facilities over the course of the next 10 years, with £15m committed by this partnership, for the development of indoor tennis centres in Scotland.

“A facility in the Scottish Borders has been identified, with an application from Scottish Borders Council in the early stages of development.

“We will continue to work with partners, including Live Borders, to progress the application, which could see this important sports and tennis facility delivered for the local community.”

It was hoped the planning process would go smoothly to help speed up the possible development, while a Scottish Borders Council spokesman said: “The Council has been in discussions with Tennis Borders for some time around opportunities for the development of an indoor facility in the region.

“This project continues to be progressed in partnership with Live Borders and will be considered as part of our future budget processes, alongside other priorities.”