A TRUST which manages several leisure centres in Worcester has been chosen to take over the running of the city’s tennis courts.

Freedom Leisure is set to begin a five-year contract with Worcester City Council to run seven tennis courts across Worcester - including five in Cripplegate Park and two courts in Gheluvelt Park.

The improvements to Cripplegate Park have been made possible through £215,000 of grants and loans by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) as well £50,000 compensation from Worcestershire County Council for the damage caused by the New Road flood work and £50,000 of its own money.

Ivan Horsfall-Turner, managing director at Freedom Leisure, said he was delighted to have been chosen by the council and looked forward to developing the facilities.

He said: “Supporting grass roots sports and young talented athletes is important to both ourselves, the LTA and the council and these facilities are crucial to this, but tennis is also a great sport which can be enjoyed by all ages, and we also recognise its importance in helping to keep local residents active and happy – we are extremely keen to see more people from Worcester participating soon.

“We hope that our operational expertise, coupled with this local approach, will mean that the services will go from strength-to-strength in support of the objectives we share with the council.”

Jon Hughes, regional delivery director at the LTA, said the association shared the council’s goal of encouraging more people to be active through sport.

He said: “The LTA’s vision is to open tennis up to more people and our investment in Worcester will do just that - providing increased opportunities for locals to pick up a racket and get on court.

“Supporting at grassroots level is a key priority and we look forward to working closely with the council and Freedom Leisure.”

Cllr Lynn Denham, vice chairman of the council’s communities committee, said: “The city council is committed to ensuring Worcester is an active and healthy city and providing tennis in the parks is a significant development that I hope will increase participation in this very popular sport.

“I am also delighted that the LTA is making its first significant investment in Worcester, introducing a high quality partnership for our city.”