Merseyside tennis centre where Emma Raducanu competed could be saved from closure

The Lawn Tennis Association has written to Wirral Council to tell them to put a hold on plans to close the tennis courts.

<p>US Open Champion Emma Raducanu</p>

US Open Champion Emma Raducanu

The governing body of British Tennis said it is ready to help save a “vital” Wirral Tennis Centre where women’s US Open champion Emma Raducanu once competed.

Wirral Council’s current plan is to close the indoor courts at Wirral Tennis Centre, in Bidston, for a year, before reopening just three of the current six courts once an upgrade has taken place.

But the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has written to the council asking it to pause any decision on the future of the centre to allow the governing body to come in and help develop plans to make the centre financially sustainable.

LTA Youth Ambassador and British tennis talisman Raducanu moved the youth stages programme at the centre.

Wirral Tennis Centre in Bidston, Wirral. Image: Google

What are the council plans?

Council documents reveal the temporary closure plan would allow an upgrade to take place and that an independent consultant has said the current facilities at the site do not complement local needs and demographics.

The three tennis courts set to go will be replaced with an “extensive” soft play and gymnastics offer under the plan.

As well as this, a second 3G astroturf football pitch would be built within the outside grounds of the site in a funding partnership between the Football Foundation and the council.

Wirral Council believes the redesigned centre would provide an estimated saving of £114,000 per year.

This is an important saving for the local authority, as councillors must agree to a budget which saves £20m on Monday, February 28, to help Wirral Council escape its budget black hole.

What does the LTA plan to do?

The LTA believes it has alternative plans which could start to generate revenue at the council operated site immediately and make it sustainable in the long-term.

A spokesperson for the LTA said: “We’re confident that Wirral Tennis Centre can become sustainable and profitable in the long-term. We’re keen to offer our help to the council as they develop plans for the future of the centre.

“Hopefully by working together we can avoid the centre’s closure and the loss of vital indoor tennis facilities.”

A Wirral Council spokesperson said: “This issue is part of the proposals for the 2022/23 budget and no decisions have been made yet.”