Jesmond Lawn Tennis Club unveils new courts

taken by Jill Foster

taken by Jill Foster

The refurbishment of Jesmond Lawn Tennis Club’s tennis courts has been completed.

Jesmond LTA, a non- for profit club, received a £50,000 SUEZ Communities Trust (formerly SITA Trust) award to help towards the cost of uprooting trees that were lifting the court surfaces and the laying of three artificial tennis courts.

The roots of trees growing underneath the courts, combined with falling debris from the trees created a slippery surface for the players on court.

With the support of the neighbours and local Councillor Peter Breakey, a successful application was submitted to the council to remove the trees.

“We are so thrilled,” said Susie McKeag, a long standing member of the club. “We have secured our future and we are never allowed to complain about the sun being in our eyes again.”

Tan Hong Ming has been a member of the club for two years. He enjoys the facilities, but thought the old courts were starting to wear out.

When asked about the new courts, Hong Ming said “they are nice and they are a lot smoother now.”

Considered to be one of the oldest clubs in the country – Jesmond was home to 1902 ladies singles Wimbledon champion Muriel Robb – Jesmond LTA’s future was in jeopardy were it not for the funding.

“Having that grant was a godsend really because otherwise the club would be non-viable – and its been here since 1883,” said Jill Foster, the club’s honourary secretary.

The club is grateful to Northumberland LTA chairman Chris Lott for backing their bid to the council.

“It’s a project that we knew needed to happen here to make sure that tennis would continue to thrive and grow into the future, so were were very keen to support it,” Lott said.

“It gives the members security that they have a viable tennis club, with new tennis courts to play on, a new facility that will be here for years and years to come,” he continued. “The alternative is that the club would close which would have been a great loss to all members.”

Including the re-fencing, placing new tarmac and new artificial grass with 12 tons of sand, the total cost of the project amounted to £75,000 – a staggering cost that Foster predicted could have impacted the club with a real fear of membership decrease.

“If we hadn’t secured this funding, we could only have survived by increasing our fees significantly,” Foster admitted.

The project took five weeks to complete and during this process, the members played at other tennis clubs including Gosforth Garden Village and the Northumberland Club.

Foster expects the new courts to last at least 15 years but this time only the top surfaces will need replacing as they now have a solid foundation that should give them 50 years of playing time.

“Having this leisure facility in the heart of Jesmond, that’s affordable, where people of all different levels can exercise and socialise and keep fit right through the year is important,” Foster said. “It’s a lovely club.”