A sports charity is hoping to open its new million-pound indoor tennis facility in Elgin this autumn.
Copri Systems will soon start building the four-court facility near Moray Sports Centre.
The £1.63m facility is the first to receive funding from the Transforming Scottish Indoor Tennis fund which aims to help aid the search for the next Andy Murray.
The funding pot, supported by Tennis Scotland, Sport Scotland and the Lawn Tennis Association, has provided £1.17m.
Moray Sports Foundation who operates the centre will contribute £511,257 towards the new centre.
This comes after Tennis Scotland’s 2016 pledge to construct more than 100 indoor courts and capitalise on the stellar careers of Andy and his brother Jamie.
Joy for Moray Sports Centre
The charity already runs a sports hall, gym, cycling studio and other fitness rooms.
Moray Sports Centre CEO Iain Stokes wants to see the new tennis facility open as soon as possible.
The new centre will provide players in the local area with year-round access to indoor tennis in an affordable and inclusive space.
Mr Stokes said: “We are putting Elgin on the map as a sporting centre of excellence.
“We are aiming to get this facility open in autumn as it takes around maximum six months to build.
“It will be great to see youngsters playing tennis all year round in Moray.
“This project was the driver to bring me back to Elgin.
“I was the little boy that didn’t have the facilities and I feel proud to have been helpful in the drive to give more opportunities for all ages.
“We are going to have opportunities to bring some talent back from the central belt so they can pass on their experiences to tennis players in the north.”
Sports minister Maree Todd added: “I am delighted to be at the ground-breaking of this Transforming Scottish Indoor Tennis fund project.
“Once built, this facility will have a positive impact on the local community, providing more and better opportunities to play tennis all year round, in an affordable and inclusive space.”
‘This is not the end for the north of Scotland’
Tennis Scotland CEO Blane Dodds stressed that the facility in Elgin will not be the last to be built in the north of Scotland.
Mr Dodds said: “We need indoor tennis facilities, kids will love it and it means they don’t have to cancel lessons because of bad weather.
“This facility will give youngsters a professional setting to train with qualified coaches.
“I hope that it can led to more people having a life in tennis whether that’s recreation, coaching or competing at the higher level.
“This is not the end for the north of Scotland and we want to do more.”
David Ewart, lead manager at Sport Scotland’s facilities team, said the Elgin facility was “really important” in plugging the gaps.
He revealed they are also working on a potential tennis centre proposal for the Inverness area.