The Cathie Sabin Community Tennis Centre has opened in Shrewsbury – with the new courts now available to be booked.
People can play on a pay and play basis while coaching courses are also available for all standards and ages, from those who would like to learn the basics to experienced players wanting to fine tune their game.
Named in honour of Cathie Sabin, Shropshire’s former president of the Lawn Tennis Association, who sadly passed away in May 2020, Tennis Shropshire’s new two-court centre, a large inflatable dome, is located on The Shrewsbury Club site at Sundorne Road.
It has quickly proved popular with players, with Fiona Jones, the chair of Tennis Shropshire, hoping it will play an important role in attracting newcomers to play tennis.
“The centre is now fully operational,” she said. “The website is open for bookings for people to go along and play, while a number of coaching sessions are also now being delivered.
“The dome is impressive inside. When people walk into the centre they look up and comment about just how much space there is.
“I have played there myself and I really liked the surface – I thought it was great.
“Inspire2coach are running the centre on behalf of Tennis Shropshire and are starting to grow the coaching programme.
“The Shropshire Wheelchair Tennis Group are using it and we would love to get more wheelchair users involved, including junior wheelchair users who might like to try playing tennis.
“The centre is going to have very much a community focus, so we want it to provide tennis for all sorts of community groups. Discussions are taking place with a number of organisations.”
Adult courses for beginners and LTA Youth Start courses for children aged between four and 11 are among the early programmes offered by coaches.
Fiona hopes the pay as you play facility will also prove popular: “Anybody who wants to book a court is able to,” she added. “You don’t have to be a member. You can just go on line to the centre’s ClubSpark page, select what time you want to play and book a court.
“It’s important that the centre will give more and more people in the area an opportunity to play tennis. We hope it will give people an introduction and encourage them to start to play regularly.
“Some of the local tennis clubs are starting to make bookings as with the courts under cover it means they can guarantee club nights without the threat of them being rained off.”
Fiona highlighted the contributions of Bob Kerr, the former Tennis Shropshire chair and LTA councillor for Shropshire, who sadly passed away last December, and Simon Jones, who succeeded Bob in both roles, in the development of the Cathie Sabin Community Tennis Centre.
Fiona said: “Bob put so much of the initial work into the centre and deserves much of the credit. It was so sad that he wasn’t able to see it through. Simon then took on much of the work and they both did a tremendous job.
“The dome’s two courts have been named the Bob Kerr Court and the Val Fisher Court as a tribute to Bob and to Val, who did so much for wheelchair tennis in the county.
“Cathie, Bob and Val were enormously important for tennis in Shropshire. Their passing has left a big gap, so it’s fitting that we have an opportunity to remember them in this way.
“They were all passionate supporters of grassroots tennis and so it’s only right to have them remembered through our new community tennis centre.”
Fiona added Tennis Shropshire are grateful to The Shrewsbury Club for the support provided in opening the centre.
“The Shrewsbury Club have been very helpful in making the centre become a reality,” she said. “They have kindly given us the use of the land and are looking after the day to day operation in terms of opening and closing the centre, as well as making sure that it’s maintained.”