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Paignton Oldway tennis courts set to close as redevelopment work starts

By Herald Express  |  Posted: January 19, 2013

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OLDWAY tennis courts are to close for a year from the end of January.

Keith Johnson, operator of Oldway Tennis Centre, has been given notice to quit as part of the new Oldway development.

He currently operates from four grass and six hard courts at the site.

But from the last weekend of this month, the club will be suspended for the duration of the new Oldway development, which is expected to last nine to 12 months.

There will be six hard courts included in the new development.

The move has been criticised by Bay MP Adrian Sanders, who says the mayor 'has left an Olympic legacy of fewer sporting clubs and public facilities' as a result.

Mr Johnson, 57, has operated as a tennis coach at the site for 15 years. There has been tennis at Oldway for about 100 years.

Mr Johnson said: "This was the one site in Paignton that was properly maintained. Paignton used to have 22 courts on two sites — Oldway and Victoria Park — and in two weeks' time there will be zero. The courts in Victoria Park are in an appalling state so we will have to go to Torquay.

"It is long overdue that something was done at Oldway. It's just we've been caught in the crossfire."

The tennis centre has a children's club with 45 members and clubs for adults and pensioners. The courts are also open to non-members.

Mr Johnson said: "In the summer months, the courts are used by hundreds of people every week.

"The developers will put six hard courts back, which won't be enough to meet demand and there will therefore be financial implications. I hope I'll get first refusal on the new courts."

Mr Sanders has questioned the decision on his Facebook page.

He praised Mr Johnson's dedication to a small business. "The business that revitalised the tennis courts at Oldway helping hundreds of people improve their game or just hit a ball back and forth for fun will be no more. Especially sad will be the loss of his growing junior tennis club."

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