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Millhouses Community Venue of Year 2017

MIllhouses wins Yorkshire Community Venue Award

Wed 13 Dec 2017  08:30  Paul Sheard

Millhouses Park has been voted the best Community Venue in Yorkshire at the annual Yorkshire Tennis Awards. Judges praised the council and its partners for boosting the popularity of grassroots tennis and investing in its future at Monday evening's ceremony, in Leeds.

Adrian Waite, LTA Councillor for Yorkshire, one of the judges, said:  “The panel was impressed with the community partnership between the LTA and Sheffield Council in the development at Millhouses Park, and the innovative approach to the ongoing management of the courts to ensure their sustainability and financial viability in the future."

 “We were impressed with the 285 per cent increase in court bookings this year, the coaching programme, and the part that Millhouses Park has played in developing the links with local schools which has given 800 children the opportunity to experience tennis for the first time over the last twelve months in Sheffield. Millhouses Park is a model for parks tennis that should be replicated throughout the country.”

More than £80,000 was spent on refurbishing tennis facilities in the park and they opened this year under the management of a community interest company, Parks Tennis, which also manages eight other tennis sites across Sheffield.

Millhouses Park, in the south of the city, now boasts six all-weather hard courts that can be booked online from just £1 per person, and offers low-cost coaching for people of all ages and abilities.

The operators, Parks Tennis, was awarded the contract and one of the conditions they agreed to was to put in place an agreed amount of money each year, to ensure there is funding available to refurbish tennis courts on an ongoing basis so they can be enjoyed by future generations.

Anyone who wants to learn tennis or brush up on their skills can get on court with a team of LTA-qualified coaches as part of this exciting partnership between Sheffieldf City Council, Parks Tennis CIC and the LTA. The aim is to encourage local residents to try tennis, by making court and coaching bookings as accessible and affordable as possible.

Paul Sheard, LTA Regional Tennis Participation Manager added: “We are delighted that Millhouses Park has been recognised for the huge progress that has been made growing tennis participation. Tennis in Millhouses Park has been transformed and the programme has gone from strength to strength. 

“Millhouses is now a real flagship venue in the Sheffield parks tennis programme and is playing an important role providing tennis opportunities for all sections of the community.”

Millhouses Park is part of a city-wide programme that began with a 2015 pilot project to regenerate parks tennis in Sheffield. With 5 sites and 21 courts having been refurbished, there are now tennis courts available to the public in Graves Park, Concord Park, Forge Valley School, High Hazels Park, Hillsborough Park, Thorncliffe Recreation Ground, Weston Park and Westfield School. Nearly 3,000 people have chosen to play tennis, at these sites, since the beginning of the year and the numbers are increasing.

Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure said:  “What we offer is unique to Sheffield and it is a real honour to receive this recognition from such a prestigious body as the LTA. I would like to  thank everyone who has worked so hard to achieve and maintain the excellent standards that have won us this award.

“For far too long the courts in Sheffield were run down but in a ground-breaking partnership we are proud to say that the city now offers residents across Sheffield the chance to play tennis either for free, or at little cost, at nine sites where you will find top quality courts and coaching.”

There will be no winter shutdown for Millhouses Park or any of the other sites. With brand new all-weather courts installed at each venue anyone who is up for tennis can book online. A Sheffield Parks Tennis Pass enables residents to play for as little as £1 a time and you can also try the coaching programme for free.

The award winning facilities at Millhouses Park also offer Hit’n’Mix, a new social tennis session, every Saturday. This is for players not requiring coaching but looking for others to play with. A coach will attend these sessions to arrange singles and doubles matches in a fun and relaxed atmosphere and rackets/balls will be provided. Future plans for the courts will aim to get more kids playing tennis and offer a coaching programme all year round.

In the photo from left to right are Alison Steel, Partnerships Manager for Parks Tennis CIC; Paul Billington, Director of Culture for Sheffield City Council and Jess Redfearn, Community Tennis Manager for Parks Tennis CIC.