Shrewsbury tennis courts set to stay shut despite Emma glory

Tennis courts which have been out of play so council workers could park their cars on them do not look set to return.

The Unison tennis courts have recently been used as a car park for Shropshire Council staff
The Unison tennis courts have recently been used as a car park for Shropshire Council staff

A spike in interest in the sport is expected following British teenager Emma Raducanu's victory in the US Open, but Shropshire Council says there are no plans to bring back the Unison courts at Shirehall.

The issue was raised by Shropshire Playing Fields Association, who want the land either brought back into use as tennis courts or converted into a multi-sport facility. The courts have not been used for at least a couple of years for tennis.

The council had a permit in place for workers to park there, which ran out in May. Now that the coronavirus pandemic has created more of a remote working culture, the authority doesn't need to use the courts for parking.

But with uncertainty over the future of Shirehall, no plans are in place to reopen the courts and make them playable. They are currently locked up.

A council spokesman said: "There is active consideration regarding the future of the Shirehall site in general. We have no current plans to bring the tennis courts back into use, but we will keep this under review for the time being, bearing in mind any associated costs for the repairs and maintenance to the site.

"The council no longer needs to utilise the area for additional parking and, therefore, as the planning permission has expired they have been sectioned off for the time being."

There are currently public courts available at Monkmoor Recreation Centre and Shrewsbury Sports Village, and community use is available at some courts at The Shrewsbury Club, however the town has lost several courts in recent years.

Shropshire Playing Fields Association chairman David Kilby, a former umpire who once officiated for former British men's number one Tim Henman, spoke out on the issue after Raducanu's stunning win earlier this month.

"This time last year, the LTA showed an upward trend in people playing tennis," he said. "It was quite a significant increase. Now you would have thought it would continue. We are at risk of losing a lot of courts in Shropshire."

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