Concern over resurfacing delays for tennis courts at Leamington park due to Commonwealth Games use

The tennis courts and pavilion at Victoria Park.
The tennis courts and pavilion at Victoria Park.

Tennis players in Leamington are concerned their club might have to fold due to a delay in court resurfacing works caused by the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in 2022.

Coach Claire Pomfret set up the Victoria Park Tennis Club (VP Tennis) in 2012 and the club now has three adult and seven junior teams, a full-time coaching programme and offers free-to-play sessions three times a week including on Saturday mornings.

The tennis courts at Victoria Park.

The tennis courts at Victoria Park.

She has been trying since 2016 to have Warwick District Council carry out resurfacing works on the public courts at the park, which are used by the club.

But the council has said that, with the courts being used by the media as a base from which to cover the Commonwealth Games bowls tournaments at Victoria Park in the summer of 2022, any repair work will not take place until after this time.

Claire said: "Even with offering our sinking fund towards [resurfacing] two courts in 2018, this has not been possible.

"The courts are now unsafe when wet and I am having to cancel so many sessions and we still have 32 months to go until the Commonwealth Games.

"Unfortunately we cannot continue if it means another winter like the last one."

Club member Luca Martinengo has also raised concerns in an impassioned letter to The Courier and the district council.

He said: " As a result of the age of the club, courts are now damaged in places and, more critical, when the humidity in the air is from moderate to high, they become a health and safety issue for anyone who wants to play.

"The courts become extremely slippery with sever risks for players of any age.

"Slipping while playing can cause, at the best, damages to rackets and gear, but also bruises, knee injuries, ankle injuries and wrist injuries."

Warwick District Council has provided a lengthy response to the concerns.

Cllr Moira Ann Grainger, portfolio holder for culture, said: "Firstly and most importantly, the council is not ignoring the concerns that have been raised by VP Tennis who operate the courts under licence to the council.

"Over recent months there have been many meetings between officers, VP Tennis and in some cases Councillors.

"VP Tennis are a member of the Commonwealth Games Stakeholder Group set up by the Council to ensure clear communication between those who may be effected by the games in 2022.

"The council, concerned by reports from VP tennis in early 2019 that the courts were slippery, commissioned an independent test by the company who carry out this work for the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).

"The report stated that the courts were fine in the dry and marginal in wet conditions, leading the Council to undertake some additional works to improve the conditions in the wet.

"The same test was done in December 2019, following the very wet autumn and winter, and out of 21 separate slip tests conducted, only three areas fell below the recommended adhesion levels when wet.

"The council took the decision to take one court out of use as a precaution and also provided notices around the court notifying customers to take sensible precautions during wet weather.

"The council have a regular maintenance regime on the courts and secured budgets to allow this to continue for the foreseeable future.

"The council has committed the courts to be used during the period of the Commonwealth Games during summer 2022, which will mean that they are out of use in the lead up to and during the ten days of competition.

"Had the Commonwealth Games not been impacting on the courts, there were plans to resurface the courts in the near future, but this has been delayed until after the games, as the use during the games is highly likely to damage the playing surface.

"Dialogue has been held with VP Tennis about these plans and they are aware of the council’s plans for the courts.

"We have also been speaking to VP Tennis about finding alternative courts while the Victoria Park courts are out of action.

"The dialogue continues with VP Tennis, and with the LTA who are in support of the Council’s approach to the ongoing plans for these courts.

"We fully recognise the value that these courts play in allowing open access to local people to play tennis and will continue to invest in these courts as we have done in the past."