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Whitstable Recreation: Tennis For Free

Updated on September 14, 2016
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CJ Stone is an author and columnist. He appears regularly in the British press. Currently he has a column in the Whitstable Gazette.

The Tennis Courts on St. Anne's Road: empty as usual.
The Tennis Courts on St. Anne's Road: empty as usual.


A friend of mine likes to play tennis. He lives in Tankerton, so the nearest courts are in St. Anne’s Road.

The courts were run by Margaret Mabberley for many years, until her death in January. She lived in Kingsdown Park, where you would have to go to collect the keys and to pay.

For several months after she died the tennis courts were free, but since July tennis coach Steve Long from Herne Bay has been running the show. Currently the courts cost £6 an hour to hire.

My friend, who passes the courts regularly, says that they were full all of the time throughout the summer when they were free. There was a mix of young and old, rich and poor, serious players or just families having fun. These days the courts are mostly empty.

At the same time Canterbury City Council are encouraging people to be more active. You can take a look at the “active canterbury” website here.

The thing is: what’s more active than a game of tennis? It is great aerobic exercise, good for the lungs, good for the circulation. It helps you get fit and is great fun at the same time.

Young people

In the United States public tennis courts are free. The United States produces great tennis players partly because, unlike the UK, tennis is not seen as an exclusive sport. It is a sport played and enjoyed by everyone, not just the wealthy, and many people’s first experience of playing tennis is on the free, public tennis courts.

Recently a group in the UK called Tennis For Free have started campaigning for free access to our tennis courts. You can check out their website here.

Meanwhile we have the on-going problem of young people hanging round on street corners intimidating people. Young people have too much energy, not much money and not enough to do.

Is it too great a leap of the imagination to picture one of these youngsters as a Wimbledon champion one day? Free tennis courts would be a good start. Steve Long could be the man coaching them.


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      Ron 6 years ago

      Great hub thanks so much.

    • bubblelass profile image

      bubblelass 8 years ago

      good post CJ, although I once hired a court with a friend and she was very disappointed to discover how atrocious I was. Then again, if the courts had been free, maybe I would have grown up playing and practising!

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      diogenes 8 years ago

      Good old Greed rears its ugly head again. These jerks think £6/hour is nothing. You get nowt free in the UK except bad weather. He should only charge for who he coaches, the courts should remain free for others. Another bootless cry!

      Regards, Bob

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      Gemma Slade 8 years ago

      I think its a disgrace! Who gave him the right to charge £6.00 an hour for use of the courts?