Tennis campaigners hope new indoor courts in Elgin will help grow the sport to new levels in the north.
Construction on a £1.2million facility will begin at the town’s Moray Sport Centre early next year after the project secured an £810,000 boost from a fund aimed at ensuring the game can be played in all weather.
Yesterday star coach Judy Murray praised the “vision, drive and staying power” of Sandy Adam, convener of the complex’s charity operator, for spearheading the project.
Meanwhile, Moray MSP Richard Lochhead explained the facility could put the town on the “national map” for the sport.
Finally the Highlands will have an indoor tennis centre. Well done to property developer Sandy Adam and his team in Elgin for having the vision, drive and staying power to get this over the line. @PressandJournal https://t.co/W3MjyqFSym
— judy murray (@JudyMurray) December 10, 2020
Cash to support the Elgin project came from a joint initiative of Tennis Scotland, Sport Scotland, formed to grow the number of indoor facilities.
Blane Dodds, chief executive of Tennis Scotland, explained it was critical for the sport to capitalise on a 6% growth in participation during the lockdown summer.
He said: “Scotland is very much a tennis playing nation know following the successes of the Murrays and Gordon Reid – we want to capitalise on that.
“There’s a huge lack of indoor facilities, which we need to grow if we’re going to be serious about growing participation with inclement weather in the winter.
“A young child having their coaching interrupted for several months can have a serious impact on their development.
“Elgin stacked up for us in terms of the analysis we did in terms of the demographic and the number of players there already is in the area.”
Moray Sports Centre was named as the first recipient of the Transforming Scottish Indoor Tennis fund.
Eventually £15million will be invested in facilities across the country to help nurture a new generation of talent.
Meanwhile, Elgin Lawn Tennis Club have welcomed the investment in Moray Sports Centre and have pledged to work with the complex to grow the sport locally.
Committee member Teresa Tait said: “This is incredibly exciting news for everyone involved in tennis throughout Moray, the Highlands, Grampian and beyond.
“Bringing first class, indoor tennis facilities to this area will transform accessibility to the sport, ensuring that more people will have the opportunity to enjoy tennis all year round.
“Elgin Tennis Club is looking forward to working with Moray Sports Centre to support this project.”
Moray Sports Centre, which is operated by charity Moray Sports Foundation, opened last year and is already running a sports hall, gym, cycling studio and other fitness rooms.
The operators intend to expand the number of outdoor facilities in the coming years by securing external funding grants.
Mr Lochhead said: “For many years now local tennis clubs have been calling for better facilities locally, especially indoor courts so they can train and play all year round.
“Over the last few years I’ve been in regular contact with the sports centre regarding plans for indoor courts and there’s no doubt that this award is of national significance and will put Moray firmly on the tennis map.”