FLOODLIGHTS and new sports facilities are set to be installed at the city’s largest outdoor tennis facility to meet demand from the rising number of players hoping to become the next Andy Murray.
Courts on the Meadows will be illuminated to allow games to run into the night, while Edinburgh Leisure will also revamp the existing changing rooms and open a sandwich bar to cater for players on-site.
The move is in response to increasing demand for tennis facilities and renewed interest in the sport after 25-year-old Scots star Murray, pictured right, became the first Briton in decades to reach the Wimbledon men’s final.
Players can currently use the 16 courts between 9am and 9pm but outside the summer months leisure chiefs have to close the courts earlier as the nights draw in.
Edinburgh Leisure, which operates the city’s sports centres on behalf of Edinburgh City Council, said the upgrade to the changing facilities would also cater for a growing number of players who are fitting matches into their lunch breaks. The move comes after sports chiefs at the city council announced that the bowling green on Leith Links would be replaced with three new courts to meet increased demand.
Tennis Scotland welcomed the investment in facilities.
Dave Macdermid, board member at the governing body, said: “We’re obviously delighted at this development.
“Any improvement in terms of facilities is most welcome because there is no doubt that, like so many sports, we don’t have the facilities we’d like.
“We have obviously noticed the increase in demand at this time of year, and with Andy’s exploits at Wimbledon this year it has been even more so.”
Mr Macdermid said later opening times and greater accessibility would help to cater for a large number of young players new to the sport. He said: “We have to keep on trying to increase the number of facilities and to make sure that there is a pathway for anybody with an interest in tennis that does not cost too much. We do feel the infrastructure isn’t in place compared to other countries but we are working very hard to change that. There’s nothing worse than a kid who has the interest but there’s no facilities or someone to coach them.”
Adult players using the Meadows courts currently pay £9.50 per hour or £7.20 if already a member of Edinburgh Leisure. Junior players pay £4.80.
Edinburgh Leisure has submitted the plans for the floodlights and sandwich bar to the city council for approval.
June Peebles, director of strategic services at Edinburgh Leisure, said: “As part of our ongoing purpose of inspiring Edinburgh to get active, we have submitted a recent planning application for enhancing the facilities at the Meadows Tennis Complex.
“These planned developments, which include floodlights and updated changing rooms, will extend the tennis season and enhance the overall customer experience by giving more people the opportunity to participate in tennis.”