TENNIS court in Worcester should be free, says a city councillor.

The call came after 18-year-old Emma Raducanu's historic win at the US Open in New York. 

Councillor Richard Udall said he noticed the public tennis courts in Cripplegate Park in Worcester are 'left locked up', with 'only a few people using them'.

The new courts, which cost £377,000 to construct along with four other courts in the city, only have a five percent occupancy rate, and most of the time are empty said Cllr Udall. 

He said: "The cost to use the courts is too high, £7 an hour is beyond the reach for many people. It is also very complicated to book, you have to book on-line and in advance, you can't just turn up and play.

"For years many people have seen tennis as an elitist sport, such charges and restrictions re-enforce that prejudice, we need to break down the barriers and allow people to play for free."

Worcester News:

Councillor Udall has suggested opening the courts on Saturday and Sunday, 8am - 8pm, to allow people to play freely. 

He added: "I still see a need for weekday bookings and organised coaching, I welcome that, but first we have to get people to play. Opening the courts for free at weekends would enable that to happen, it would allow for people to just turn up and have a go, to enjoy the game and have fun. We want to bring the fun back, not restrict it to the few who can afford £7 an hour - We want tennis for the many, not the few.

"I'm seriously concerned that a £400,000 investment in public tennis has been wasted. We have great facilities, there is no need to ration them. Keeping them locked up when people want to play is simply a bad public policy."

Freedom Leisure, Worcester City Council and the Lawn Tennis Association say over 11,000 people have played tennis at Worcester’s Cripplegate Park or Gheluvelt Park since the courts re-opened at the end of March 2021.

A spokesman for the three organisations said: "We offer 30 hours of free tennis every week, including sessions at weekends. There are also regular free taster sessions for families, children and adults at both parks.

"An annual pass to the Cripplegate tennis courts costs £65 per household – allowing a whole family to play tennis for just £1.25 a week. Concessions are also available.

"Low cost payments will ensure the economic viability and long term sustainability of these tennis courts – so that Worcester residents can enjoy playing on great quality park tennis courts for the next 25 years and beyond."

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