Merton’s Mayor Brenda Fraser and council leader Stephen Alambritis were delighted to attend the launch of the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s new Community Sports Ground in Raynes Park on Wednesday 8 June.
Double Grand Slam Champion Andy Murray, fresh from being the first British man to reach the French Open finals in 79 years, was on hand to give lessons to children.
He was joined by brother and fellow Grand Slam Champion Jamie Murray, pictured above, multiple Grand Slam wheelchair doubles’ champion Jordanne Whiley, former British Number one and AELTC Committee Member Tim Henman, and Philip Brook, Chairman of the All England Club at the event.
Andy Murray with children at the new facility.
Merton Council’s planning committee gave permission for the building of the new sports ground in December 2014.
The state-of-the-art facility in the playing fields in Grand Drive is not far from the home of tennis – the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
From left: Tim Henman, Wandsworth’s Mayor Councillor Richard Field, Merton’s Mayor Councillor Brenda Fraser, Jamie Murray, AELTC Chairman Philip Brook and Andy Murray. Front: multiple Grand Slam wheelchair doubles’ champion Jordanne Whiley.
It features six hard courts, three outdoor and three indoor, and it will be the base for the 400 young tennis stars on the Wimbledon Junior Tennis Initiative (WJTI) programme while improvement work is carried out to their usual home of Wimbledon’s Number One Court. The Community Sports Ground will also host Ball Boy and Ball Girl training and will be open for community use.
Mayor of Merton Councillor Brenda Fraser said: “It’s great to see this fantastic initiative happening in our borough.
“I am proud of being the first citizen of Merton, the borough that hosts the world famous tennis championships.
“It’s great to see such internationally renowned tennis stars taking time out to visit the new facilities.”
Cllr Alambritis said: “I am delighted to have been part of the launch of the Community Sports Ground.
“We are always looking for opportunities to get young people into sport, and this is a great example of people coming together to encourage the sports stars of the future.”
Andy Murray said: “Local facilities like this are so important in allowing kids to get their first experience of tennis. We had a few tennis courts nearby where I grew up and we were always encouraged to get out there and be active, it was a really important part of me and my brother’s development.”
With the Wimbledon Championships being held from Monday June 27 to Sunday July 10, the players took time out of their busy preparation schedule to attend.
Philip Brook, Chairman of the All England Club, cut the ribbon with Andy Murray before youngsters took part in a series of tennis skills workshops.
Notes to editors: Please credit pictures to AELTC/Thomas Lovelock
A video of the event is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETX2tA92Y9I