THE locked-up Lymington Tennis Club could reopen its doors within weeks, according to a group of members who have taken over its management.
The publicly-owned courts and pavilion at the Sports Ground off Avenue Road were shut by the town council as it tries to regain the lease in a dispute over rent and repairs with Lymington Tennis Ltd, which until recently ran the club.
Now a new working group of players is trying to revive activities with plans to relaunch as a members-run organisation with its own committee.
The council is backing this proposal, with extra oversight, and an appeal has been made for people to come forward to take up senior positions including chair, treasurer and secretary.
Emails sent out to members by the working group say that by setting up as a club registered with the Lawn Tennis Association, they would gain public liability insurance – a vital part of any future agreement.
They hope the site could be fully unlocked as early as the beginning of December with a six-month interim agreement until May when longer-term decisions could be made with the town council.
The tennis group said: “We believe that there is a great opportunity here to demonstrate to the council that a member-run club is a strong and viable solution going forward, but in doing so this will also require the support from members.”
As reported in the A&T, the site is leased to Lymington Tennis Ltd, which had been managing the club and had full responsibility for repairs.
Its sole director, Neil Webb, quit last month and the town council has locked up the courts and pavilion as it launches legal action to try to regain formal control from him.
The club working group’s emails said a “significant amount of funding” would be required to bring the facilities up to scratch, including for general maintenance, fencing and court surfaces.
The town council said it had previously agreed with Lymington Tennis Ltd an action plan of improvements to the facilities in 2018 but by November that year little had been done
In early 2019 rents were being paid late and the leaseholder again made promises to improve.
However, by August tennis club members were contacting the council with complaints about the state of repair. The council was preparing a legal order to force action when it said Mr Webb quit with a notice left on the clubhouse door.
Town clerk Caroline Godfrey told the A&T this week: “In the short-term our focus is to strive to continue tennis at the club for local residents.
“This approach encourages existing users to not seek alternative clubs in the area which could result in a further decline in membership numbers once the future for the long-term management of the facility is clearer.”
Mr Webb did not respond to the A&T’s request for comment.
If enough tennis club committee nominations had been submitted by Friday to spark an election, club members will have until 22nd November to vote.
The club said the courts will re-open on an interim basis on Monday and Thursday nights between 6pm and 9pm for knock-ups, but keys will have to be obtained from the working group.