26 April 2019

Can we run a league for you? Yes we can!

Many players use the New League Suggestion from our Contact Us link and we always follow up every idea. Most recently,  Bognor and Littlehampton in sunny Sussex were in the frame and this week we went on a recce

To Bognor and Littlehampton on Thursday to investigate the potential for a new league. It was a player’s suggestion and not only do we always follow up suggestions and try to visit new venues, we do like a day beside the seaside. Swap busy London and a  packed Victoria station for sea fronts and beach huts? You bet!

The further the train travelled south, the warmer it became and by the time I arrived, Bognor was basking in the sun. No surprise that its famous Butlins, now with three 5 star hotels and a new £30 million pool, is booming. “We have everything here,” says my guide, Justin Simpson from Tivoli Lifestyle which manages the local sports facilities. “The beach, the countryside, Arundel castle just down the road.”

But I was here for a tennis tour, not the redcoats, and a very scenic tour it was too. Whoever laid out the courts in both Bognor and neighbouring Littlehampton had Kirstie & Phil’s eye for a great location.
In Bognor’s Blakes Road the courts sit on the edge of a small field just behind the sharply painted yellow and blue beach huts on the sea front. They are next to the Boat House for a post-match ice cream (or something stronger at the very friendly Sailing Club if you are a member) and across from the sports hut, run by Christine. They feel accessible and private at the same time. Any new league needs the right facilities, and so far, so good!  

From Blakes Road, it’s a short drive, via the very pretty village of Felpham, to Littlehampton. The courts here in Norfolk Gardens are sometimes used by players in our Adur and Worthing Tennis  League and it’s not hard to see why. Like those in Bognor, they were re-sprayed a couple of years ago, and the setting is rather grand. They lie between a long row of smart-looking houses and the sea. If you nip across the miniature railway line (look out for the new steam train which is being built), you will find thre courts and four mini-courts just beyond the Lifestyle in the Gardens café (do stop for a toastie). There is also a handy balcony from which to watch the tennis if you are not playing yourself.  To hire a racket (or a putt for the green), just see David (pictured) or Keith in the sports hut.

But the jewel in the local tennis crown must be Maltravers Gardens. A stone’s throw from Norfolk Gardens, it is tucked away from the road, next to the bowling green and local coach Stewart Lister runs popular sessions on Saturday and Sundays mornings. “It’s £12 a month and for all ages,” he says. “The youngest is 4 and the oldest, our 84 year old, has only just retired.” Play on the hard courts here and you have the very inviting grass courts (pictured right below) on one side and on the other, the beautiful People’s Orchard (tend-and-pick-your-own; pictured left below).  It’s hard to think of a more idyllic spot to play tennis.

Round one of the Littlehampton & Bognor Tennis League will run from 20 June to 14 August. To join click here