THE dream is that one day the next Andy Murray will say he learnt his trade there, proving the £100,000 to be money well spent.
New tennis courts are to replace a council-run bowling green on Leith Links after the number of people playing bowls dropped dramatically.
Work on the project is expected to get under way later this year with the courts, including marked smaller playing areas for children, opening to the public by April 2013.
The city council said the number of bowls matches played on the Links’ three greens had dropped by 58 per cent, from 2954 in 2007 to 1236 last year. Fewer than 60 bowlers per week use the facility, but two greens will remain open.
The tennis courts plan was welcomed by the nearby Leith Bowling Club, which said it would attract more people to the Links.
Greenkeeper Adam Davidson said bowls’ decline could be seen across the city and Scotland as a whole, with his own club losing around 50 members over the past five years.
Mr Davidson, who has been a member of the Leith club since 1970, said: “I think it’s down to youngsters playing with computers and other things – they have got other interests now.” The tennis courts will be managed by Edinburgh Leisure, with hourly court hire costs ranging from £4.30 for juniors and disabled leisure card holders, to £8.50 for adults. People will be able to play for free outwith normal opening hours.
A major overhaul of Leith Links is due to be completed late next year, with better play equipment and allotments also planned as part of a £400,000 project.
The city council said staff who work at the bowling greens would be transferred to the tennis courts and players would able to use the existing pavilion’s toilets and changing rooms.
Edinburgh Leisure said it saw the plans as a “fantastic opportunity” to increase the activities on offer at the facility and hopefully attract younger customers and families.
A spokeswoman said: “There are a few regular casual bowlers loyal to Leith Links, and the Churches League play there once every three weeks or so.
“Sadly the sport of bowls is in decline and we no longer have the need for four bowling greens at Leith Links, and had in fact changed the use of one of them to nine-hole putting around three years ago.
“All going well, the tennis courts will be ready for the start of the new season April 2013.”
Coaching sessions will also be provided at the tennis courts, which will be situated on the corner of Johns Place and Links Place.
Environment leader, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “Leith Links has been in line for major investment for a number of years now.
“Tennis facilities are just the first step in a major programme of development we have planned for the park and I’m delighted funding is now being sourced to give this project the go-ahead.
“Three new tennis courts will open up facilities at Leith Links to families and will also greatly help with tennis development programmes for children from the local schools.
“Perhaps one day Edinburgh’s very own Andy Murray might learn to play on these tennis courts.”