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Developers at deuce: Let us back on to tennis courts, plead players

Kenlyn Tennis Club want to be back in clubhouse for 100th anniversary

06 April, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

How the courts in Dartmouth Park currently look as the delay goes on

THE once-pristine clay courts are now home to weeds, the nets are sagging and the worn-out baselines would give even the most eagle-eyed umpire a headache when trying to judge if a ball is in or out.

But Kenlyn Tennis Club, based on land in Dartmouth Park, hopes to be able to revive its historic home in time for its 100th anniversary. The club was set up in 1919 on land given to the community for sports by banking heiress Angela Burdett-Coutts.

Play came to a halt four years ago, however, amid a row over the future of the site, owned by Mansfield Bowl­ing Club, which has now been closed down by its directors.

While developer Generator has secured planning permission for new housing and three new tennis courts, to be run by the club, no work has started.

Club captain Richard Ault said members felt frustrated by the lack of progress.

“We have been chasing Generator for months to find out what is happening and we are extremely frustrated and disappointed at the extremely slow speed of this development,” he said. “We were against this in the first place, but the tennis club’s future had to be secured under the terms of the planning agreement.”

The club has nearly 100 members, including juniors, and still competes in the Middlesex Tennis League – although being without a home means it has to play all matches away.

The club is registered and is compliant with Lawn Tennis Association regulations. It enters players in the preliminary stages of the Wimbledon tournament.

Mr Ault said members would be happy to muck in to get some tennis on the site.

While the once-neatly-kept shale and clay courts are beginning to have buddleia emerge through their surface, the damage is not considered terminal.

“Our message is: if it is at all possible, and before the season starts, which is in the first couple of weeks of April, can we please come in and use our old ground?” he said. “The clubhouse, though rickety, could be repaired with some care. We would have to do some weeding, repair the white lines and tape them down again, and lay some fresh shale over the clay courts. “But they are in fairly good condition and we could make them usable. We would need to do a spot of gardening too.”

He added: “It would be wonderful to reopen it, even for a short period, to celebrate our 100th ann­iversary.”

Developer Generator hopes to find a firm to build the housing scheme, but no deal has yet been struck.

Generator director James Barnes told the New Journal the company would look at any proposal – but it had yet to receive a concrete plan. He said of the tennis club’s plan: “It would be a nice thing for them, but the first step would be to look at any health and safety issues. It is something we could consider if we are approached about it.”

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