Scotland is to get a state-of-the-art indoor tennis centre to satisfy the demand for year round access to a sport in which the nation is now a world-leader.
A new four-court arena is to be built in St Andrews with the aim of encouraging more people to pursue tennis at all levels.
The £3 million centre is being funded by the University of St Andrews, Sportscotland, Tennis Scotland, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), a private donor and the St Andrews alumni community.
It will be built at the University’s Sports Centre at St Leonard’s Road.
St Andrews is investing over £14 million in its sports facilities which have won praise from Manchester United, Barcelona, Dundee United, Scottish Rugby and a host of other professional teams who are regular visitors to Fife for training camps.
The new centre will allow the University to achieve its aim of running a comprehensive and inclusive tennis programme that caters for increasing participation, competitive opportunities and coaching for all ages and levels.
Local schools in Fife will have regular access to the new centre on school days, and student tennis players will be encouraged to work with youngsters to develop coaching and volunteering experience.
The centre will also cater for a rapidly growing student tennis club programme from recreational to top team level.
Mike Aitken, St Andrews director of tennis, said: “The building of a four-court indoor centre is hugely exciting for the whole tennis community. It will be a fantastic venue offering a full coaching and competitive programme as well as pay and play for members of the community.
“We will cater for students, staff, schools, local clubs and disability groups by offering sessions for all levels.
“We will also play our part in the district, Tennis Scotland and LTA development plans with competition, player development and coach education.
“We hope to run a programme that will get more people playing more tennis at whatever level and provide a great experience for those using the facility.”
Tennis Scotland interim chief executive officer, Pete Nicholson, added: “Tennis Scotland is delighted to support this exciting development which fits perfectly with our ambitious, evolving Facilities Strategy.
“We look forward to forging many similar indoor partnerships across Scotland and will be confirming the application process for our new Indoor Tennis Fund in April.”
Work on the new centre will begin this week and the facility is expected to be complete in September.
St Andrews Director of Sport, Stephen Stewart, said: “The Tennis Club enjoys one of the highest participation rates of any sport at the University and has over 200 members.
“Whilst the existing outdoor courts are hugely popular, their use is wholly weather dependent and our ability to develop tennis as a key sport has therefore been enormously compromised.
“We are thoroughly delighted that with the installation of the new four-court indoor tennis centre we will now be able to offer our students, local schools and the community the opportunity to train and play in a quality, fit for purpose facility all year round.
“Through our Performance Tennis Programme we operate eight competitive teams, which is as many as any other Scottish University, whilst also catering for a massive recreational group of casual players. The new facility will enable us to develop our performance programme, and increase our ability to offer coach education, whilst simultaneously supporting Tennis Scotland’s regional development plans.
“We are very grateful for the support from Sportscotland, as well as the generosity of a number of other significant partners – our loyal alumni and friends – without whose help this project would not have been possible.”