Tennis for all: Cardiff community residents worry that they will need to pay to play tennis in the future

A public tennis court used by community residents was found to be closed without notice and now has to be booked online. 

People who cannot afford to pay for club fees may give up playing tennis

Cardiff tennis enthusiasts worry they won’t be able to play for free anymore after they found the gate of a public court being locked.

Some residents near Victoria Park found a security gate blocking the access of the court without any warning, and must now be booked online at £4.50 per hour.

Spencer Vignes, who is a sports reporter living in this community said: “Many people are very angry about this, not just for the money, the worst thing is nobody was told, nobody was consulted.”

Residents want to keep the focus on this matter until they get a definitive answer. Some are willing to mobilise to stop this Council decision and prevent the fields from being privatised.

“If the Council insists on their plan, I will join a campaign and make sure that as many people as possible who live in this area to join,” said Tom Allen, “after their voice is heard, the court will not be privatized.”

“It is a mistake,” said Tom Allen, who always practices in the court. “This court is not a professional venue, it is just for beginner and casual tennis players to practice, even just for families to have fun with their children.”

“Many people played here for many years, it is not fair to them to pay for it,” says Karl Garrens

There are several tennis clubs in the area with facilities for members. Residents are free to join them and pay membership if they want to play, but for those people who cannot afford club fees, this court was their only chance to practice for free before it was privatised.

“For me, it is the best public tennis court in the area,” said Karl Garrens, who plays tennis here for the first time.”So, if it had to be paid, I guess I would. But I will not be happy to do it because I had paid for my council services. And I did not really know this needs to be booked until I did more research last night.”

According to many residents, the closed court has been reopened in recent days. Tennis Wales, the national governing body for tennis in Wales, has issued a brief statement on the matter, saying that no decision has yet been made at this time and that they will continue to consult with the community. But residents still do not feel confident.

“It is not quite good enough for me, ” said Jane Lewis, who played tennis in the community for many years. “They just say they do not have a plan to close the court, but that does not mean they do not have a plan to own it. So, I still think they will try a different way.”

Spencer said: “I am sorry this is bad news for children who do not have a lot of money. And because of Covid, money in many families of Cardiff is also tight. They might have to stop playing because they cannot afford it, it is unfair for them.”

Spencer thinks the community will not simply walk away with this decision and will push for a response from the Council

Spencer said: “I tried to contact the Council, and they did not say anything. It looks like they will let it go ahead. I also try to contact Tennis Wales. They made an apology for not talking to residents about it in the last week, but they were not sorry about trying to do this.”