The building of new courts, or refurbishment of old courts, is usually led by an active individual or group in a particular location. The latest Real Tennis courts to come into existence were at Radley in 2008 and at Wellington College in 2016, with others at various stages in the pipeline. A second Rackets court was opened at Tonbridge in 2012, following a successful appeal by the school combined with support from the community. Previous to this, and in the last 20 years, one new Rackets court had been built at St Paul’s School in London and six new Tennis courts have opened: Bristol,Middlesex University (Burroughs), Harbour Club, The Oratory School, and two at Prested Hall. Sadly, Harbour Club has subsequently closed. In the same period, three old Tennis courts have been restored to play after undergoing major refurbishment: the Cambridge blue court, the Hyde court at Bridport, and Newmarket. One 19th century court at Troon currently stands idle with an impasse between the building’s owners and a group of local enthusiasts.
The T&RA is able to offer a supporting role in dealing with schools, planners, architects and possible funding. This is achieved by either seconding our own experienced people or by recommending consultants. In the first instance, you should contact the office at Queen’s. We have a limited amount of our own funding available to assist court development through grants and loans.
The original report was compiled in 2007 and covered what had been learnt about court development and refurbishment over the preceding 15 years, starting with the construction aspects. This has been updated with the court elevations at Radley and the construction experience of Middlesex and Wellington (kindly authored by Peter Luck-Hille). These are ‘live’ documents and will be updated periodically, with new subjects added. It is intended to give interested parties some ’steer’ in the right direction when it comes to court construction and refurbishment.
Underpinning this PDF summary is much good detailed information provided by many people and clubs who have kindly contributed to the report. This information is held at the office, for those interested in seeing more detail. You can also be put in direct contact with those who have built or refurbished courts.
Everyone who has tried to build a court, or even refurbish one, will tell you that construction is the easy part. The struggle to find a site, convince planners, and secure funding is far more challenging. Courts have been built to varying specifications too, from the cheapest at about £0.5m to the most expensive at £1.7m.
With the kind permission of the Radley Estates Bursar, David Anderson, the following plans are available for download.
Bruce Paxton has recompleted a year-long investigation into the Bickley floor at Moreton Morrell, and what the club might be able to do with it to maintain the superb playing characteristics of the court as it ages. The report is available to other clubs and can be downloaded.