2 May 2019

Support your local tournament!

Is there a tournament happening on your local courts? Summer is the season of one-day tournaments and where ever we can, we champion local organisations and individuals who make these great events happen

This week, Local Tennis Leagues has been helping a group of people who play and promote tennis on the courts closest to us, Highbury Fields, with their plans for its 31st annual summer tournament.

Pre-dating Local Tennis leagues by some 17 years, the event in north London is steeped in its own history. Set up originally by a community association dedicated to supporting the local park, it has seen its fair share of rainstorms and scorchers, gone through a number of format changes, and even helped in the establishment a local club. Each year, it is a labour of love and hugely rewarding for those who get involved as organisers and players.

All sorts of people set up these or similar events. At West Ham Park in East London, the local coaches have run a series of on-the-day tournaments. On the Meadows in Edinburgh, the City Tennis Club runs a series of spring and summer events (next up American Doubles on May 11th). And all over the country the LTA-co-ordinated Nature Valley Big Tennis Weekends offer chances to pick up a racket and in some locations join fun competitive events.

For bigger, more establish summer tournaments (and some smaller ones too) see the LTA's Competition Search pages. To find a Nature Valley Big Tennis Weekend near you click here. But for some of the really small, community-based events you may simply have to keep your ears to the ground. 

How to set up a local tournament in your park

First of all, see what your local coaches or court managers are planning

Many parks are now using the LTA-supported Clubspark, which means setting up tennis events is much more straightforward and plenty of centres and coaches have their plans well advanced. If your local court operators aren't planning something, have a word. If they know there is local interest, they may well add an event to the programme.

Do it yourself!

Check first with the court operators... if your park has a well-established organsiation tasked with managing tennis for the local community you will need to work with them (they may still be very happy to rent you courts for a social event).

If there isn't an organisation that operates on the courts, work out who owns the courts and approach them. In many cases this will be the local authority. Usually local authorities will be fantastically helpful and will offer advice on what you may need to do including obtaining insurance, conducting a risk assessmen, and making sure you have appropriate safe-guarding in place if your event involves children.

You shouldn't under-estimate the work involved and you would be wise to engage the help of some like-minded friends. You will need to consider how you will publicise the event, how you will collect payments (to cover the cost of courts etc) and decide on the format for the event (doubles or singles, adults or children, knockout or round robin).

Just for you, your friends and your family

If a fully-fledged community event sounds a little too daunting, don't despair. From small acorns, big things grow. See if a group of friends can hire one or two courts for an afternoon (you may have to work together to make the booking). If you stick to doubles and play short format matches, ten players (5 teams) should be able to complete a round robin event if you have two courts for a whole afternoon. Adults arranging this for themselves and not charging for the event don't need to worry about insurance, although you would still be wise to complete your own risk assessment and make sure you are geared up for all eventualities.

What we can do to help?

  • If we think your event will be of interest to our players we may be able to post information on our website or include it in our social media. Use the contact form on the site to tell us more.
  • If you would like to offer a free entry into a Local Tennis League round as a prize and can in return help promote Local Tennis Leagues to entrants, let us know and we may be able to help.
  • If you are struggling to find out who owns the courts or who to approach for permission, and the set of courts you want to use are included in one of our leagues, ask us. We may be able to point you in the right direction.

Details of this summer's Highbury Fields Tennis Community Charity Tournament in north London can be found here