Transforming Public Park Tennis Courts Across Wales

Simon Johnson, Chief Executive at Tennis Wales talks public park tennis courts, the importance of accessible facilities and opening tennis up across Wales.

Some of the world’s most successful and recognisable tennis stars started playing tennis in a public park. Serena Williams, winner of 23 grand slam singles titles, is a prime example, playing her first tennis on the public park courts in Compton, California with her dad Richard, and sister Venus. In Britain, our Billie Jean King Cup Captain and former British number 1, Anne Keothavong MBE made her start in tennis on the park tennis courts in Hackney, as did many others.

Wales is blessed with over 100 public parks with tennis courts, with an estimated 350 courts from Swansea to Wrexham, and Pembrokeshire to Newport. Parks provide a great, low cost and affordable way to play tennis, and are key to ‘opening up’ tennis for all. They’re a vital community facility and available locally for people to enjoy.

The stats show the importance of parks in the numbers of people playing tennis. Figures from 2022 showed tennis participation in Wales at unprecedented levels. 171,000 adults picked up a racket at least once, and over 16,000 children played tennis weekly. 40% of this participation took place on public tennis courts, higher than any part of Great Britain.

Our goal, working with our partners, is to ensure Wales has a thriving network of accessible public tennis courts, right across the country. Park tennis venues that are particularly important for lower socio-economic groups and women, as the most popular place for women to play tennis after they have left education. We want facilities that people can enjoy safely, can access and book online, and that are sustainable for decades to come. Parks should be places where all the family can go and play locally, and who knows, in some cases go on to compete at the top of the game.

The UK Government and LTA Tennis Foundation are investing significantly into park tennis facilities across Britain, as part of a project delivered by the LTA. Tennis Wales is working with the LTA, the national governing body for tennis in Britain, as well as with Sport Wales and Welsh local authorities, to ensure that park tennis courts across Wales provide opportunities for people to get on court and get active. Work is ongoing, with parks due to be relaunched to the public in the coming months.

The investment will ensure that quality facilities are available for local communities, transforming, safeguarding, and improving public park tennis courts for the next generation to enjoy. Parks will be refurbished and offer online court booking, alongside free and affordable coaching, and community programmes to welcome more people than ever in a safe, inclusive, accessible, and welcoming environment. Some parks will even see LED lighting installed to welcome people all year round and create fantastic facilities in their public parks.


Case Study: Dominic Smith at Heath Park

Dominic Smith moved to Cardiff to study at university nine years ago. During that time, he played competitively in the BUCS competition and worked part-time as a tennis coach, as well as securing an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Sport Management. He was given the opportunity to start a coaching programme at the Heath Park tennis courts, with the support of Tennis Wales and Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Dominic is in no doubt that park tennis is key to helping ‘open up’ tennis in Wales. He said: “I strongly believe that park tennis provides the opportunity for a complete change of mindset with tennis as a sport. I feel this every day at Heath Park.”

Tennis coaching is an important aspect of the activity at Heath Park. There are sessions for children aged 4-18 and adults, and school holiday camps. Added to that there are junior match play events, adult competition and social events, and volunteering and coach development.

Inclusivity is important for Dominic as well. He said: “We offer sessions for Cardiff Baseliners who are Wales first LGBTQ+ tennis club, and disability tennis sessions through Sense Cardiff. Coaching runs all year round six days a week.”

Dominic also ensures there are opportunities for people to try tennis. He said: “I run 2-3 open days a year. Open days include working with local schools to help increase participation. I offer the schools free taster sessions in return for promotion of the open day and the coaching offer at Heath Park. Children and adults are invited to join six-week taster sessions on the back of attending the open days at a subsidised price.”


Did you know you can book tennis courts across Wales online?

An increasing number of public parks, and tennis clubs now offer you the opportunity to find and book a tennis court online. Visit enter your location and find local courts that you can book at the click of a button. More and more sites are coming online this summer, so keep an eye out for new and improved facilities near you.