Clijsters presents Gilredge Park with beacon plaque
World number nine and current US Open champion Kim Clijsters was on hand to present Gildredge Park in Eastbourne with their beacon plaque.
Clijsters, who is in Eastbourne ahead of the AEGON International, took time out to visit the thriving park site to see for herself how Gildredge Park is enabling more people to get involved in tennis.
A group of AEGON FutureStars and some of the park’s pre-school players got the chance to have a hit with the Belgium star whilst Francis and Gemma Mackie who have developed Gildredge Park over the last five years accepted the beacon site plaque.
Tennis coach Francis said:
“It’s been absolutely brilliant to have Kim come and join us. You’d certainly never expect somebody like her to be playing on our courts so it’s been a real treat.
“We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve here. Before we came along, the site was really derelict and you couldn’t even play on one of the courts. Now thanks to support from the Tennis Foundation we have re-surfaced our courts, we have floodlights and have managed to build up a real community spirit centred around our cafe and so it’s great that Kim has been able to see how we’re helping to improve community tennis.”
Louisiana Vine, one of the six AEGON FutureStars invited to meet Clijsters added:
“It was really great to meet Kim. I’ve seen her play on TV a lot and so it was really nice to actually meet her. She’s such a great role model for girls like me and I’ve always looked up to her. I’ll definitely be cheering for her at Wimbledon.”
Gildredge Park was awarded beacon site status by the Tennis Foundation in recognition of their high quality, affordable community tennis programmes. They have been selected for the accolade along with 41 other Beacon sites across the country and are one of the first community sites to achieve the status, which recognises the best community-focused facilities, as part of AEGON Parks Tennis.
Sue Mappin, Executive Director of the Tennis Foundation, said: “We were delighted to recognise the excellent work Gildredge Park is already doing by awarding them ‘Beacon’ status. To grow participation we need more quality public tennis facilities like this, offering the local community a fun, affordable tennis experience all year round.
"The Tennis Foundation is working in partnership with the City to develop community tennis, as part of its ongoing drive to enhance tennis opportunities."
“Through AEGON Parks Tennis, we are committed to improving access to tennis around the country – whether playing for fun or competing. Tennis is a fantastic lifelong sport and I strongly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to take part."
"Working with local tennis providers, this will make a real contribution to building healthier and safer communities, as well as ensuring that anyone wanting to pick up a racket can do so in a quality local environment.”
AEGON Parks Tennis aims to increase community access to tennis in parks and communities nationwide. Led by the Tennis Foundation and supported by the LTA, AEGON Parks Tennis is a key programme in British tennis’ drive to increase participation and grow tennis at all levels. The long-term aim is to have one beacon site acting as a centre of community tennis excellence in each of the 442 local authorities in Britain.