New courts serve up a treat

IT'S GAME, set and match for a Suffolk village after residents obtained more than £90,000 to pay for new tennis courts.

Richard Smith

IT'S GAME, set and match for a Suffolk village after residents obtained more than £90,000 to pay for new tennis courts.

The official opening of the courts took place in Wickham Market, near Woodbridge, with the ceremony performed by Christine Janes (formerly Truman), who was Wimbledon finalist in 1961 and lives in Aldeburgh.

She is a keen advocate of grass roots tennis in Suffolk and she said: “Tennis is not just about champions - it is a healthy activity for all ages and a way of spending leisure time with like-minded people, although the icing on the cake would be a future champion from Wickham Market now that these wonderful facilities are available.”

The Wickham Market Partnership, a local regeneration charity, decided to bid for money for courts on Simon's Cross playing field after two surveys showed overwhelming support for the sport.

They had to bid against a project in Felixstowe for a Big Lottery grant and lost out. However, Wickham Market received a grant after the village received the highest number of runner-up votes in a television voting poll.

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Jacquie Errington, a trustee of the partnership, said: “The local school had supported us all the way with the project and on the Friday the children were all taken to the gym in silence - they didn't know what for and thought they had done something wrong.

“When they saw the TV presenter, and then the cheque for £94,000, the whole place just erupted - they were overjoyed.”

Cath Caudwell, company secretary of the partnership, added: ''This project would not have happened without the votes from the local community, so everyone is owed a huge thank you.

“We also knew that the development of a tennis club was crucial to the sport's success so part of the grant is being used to buy equipment as well as giving volunteers the chance to train as coaches.

“We wanted a holistic approach as just putting in the courts would not have been enough.”

§ Details about the pay and play facilities and club membership are available from club chairman Hilary Russell on 01728 747414.

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