Sports fan's claim as he lobbies council
ROTHERFIELD could breed the next generation of Wimbledon champions, if only it could provide tennis players with new courts.
That is according to sports nut Mark Wakelin, who made a renewed case for new facilities to the parish council.
Councillor Peggy Halse-Adamson said: "We can remember (former parish chairman) Janice Primrose trying to get funding for something like this.
"Unfortunately, we didn't get the support we wanted back then, but if we can find the money this time it would be a good thing.
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"We have a cricket club and a football club and to have tennis as well would be great for the village."
The council heard tennis is growing in popularity, aided by the exploits of Andy Murray at Wimbledon, but players are currently having to travel to Crowborough and Tunbridge Wells to practice.
Mrs Primrose added: "We have a very large recreation ground and around ten years ago when my kids were growing up I thought it would be a nice idea. The football club wasn't keen though – they said they needed the land to train on.
"The idea was dead in the water when I left the parish council four years ago, so good luck to the guys pushing for it again."
They are Mr Wakelin, 37, from Mayfield Road in Rotherfield, coach David Beardsworth from North Street, and pal Chris Wilkinson from Rotherfield High Street.
Eyeing up a plot between the bowling greens and the football pitch, Mr Wilkinson said: "There should be space to fit two hard courts in there.
"The other option, if there is interest, is to use recycled materials to create a hardstanding, as an alternative to bitumen."
The project could cost tens of thousands of pounds, but Mr Wilkinson continued: "In any case we've asked the Lawn Tennis Association to provide some funding and we've got permission for that in principle.
"And once complete it could fall under the auspices of the existing sports association."
Councillor Colin Clibbens raised the question of multi-use courts, and it was agreed the area could be marked out for five-a-side soccer to allow football club bookings, removing the need for the club to train in Heathfield when their grass pitch is frozen or waterlogged in winter.
Floodlighting could also be incorporated into the facility, it was agreed.
Mr Wakelin said: "Hopefully, we'll have some Wimbledon stars in our midst."