National Centre to be 'one-stop shop'

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The Independent Online

New ground was broken yesterday in the quest for multiple Tim Henmans of the future. Charles Trippe, the Lawn Tennis Association's president, and David Felgate, the LTA's director of performance, made the first dig in the construction of a £39m National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.

New ground was broken yesterday in the quest for multiple Tim Henmans of the future. Charles Trippe, the Lawn Tennis Association's president, and David Felgate, the LTA's director of performance, made the first dig in the construction of a £39m National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.

The Centre, due to be completed in 2006, will become the LTA's new headquarters, necessitating a move from Queen's Club, West Kensington, to the Bank of England Sports Grounds, a 15-minute drive from the All England Club.

A decision about the future of Queen's Club, in whose grounds is the LTA's current home, will be made before Wimbledon next year. "We have made a number of undertakings to the members that we won't sell the Club without giving them an opportunity to bid," said John Crowther, the LTA's chief executive. "The site will continue as a tennis and racket club for the foreseeable future." The Wimbledon qualifying tournament already takes place on grass courts in the Bank of England grounds, and the aim is to ensure that future British contenders, men and women, graduate from Roehampton to the world's major championships.

The Centre will have 16 outdoor courts - six of them clay, six rubberised concrete, four grass - and six indoor courts, a gymnasium and sports science and medical facilities. "I want our rehab centre to be the best in the country," Felgate said. Crowther described the Centre as "a one-stop shop, where players will be able to get everything they need."

Funding for the project - £30m construction costs plus an up-front 125-year lease payment of £9m to the Bank of England, who owns the site - will come from the LTA's existing assets. "We will come within budget," said Crowther, "this will not be a Scottish Parliament."

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