Courts unplayable’

TENNIS fans caught up by Wimbledon fever have criticised what they believe are poor facilities to play the sport in Exmouth.

TENNIS fans caught up by Wimbledon fever have criticised what they believe are poor facilities to play the sport in Exmouth.

Paul Ives, who helps to run a community tennis project aimed at reviving run-down facilities, said the courts in Phear Park were in a particularly bad state.

The 49-year-old, of Withycombe Village Road, wants to see a new surface laid, nets, and free use of the courts for young people.

Leisure East Devon, the trust responsible for looking after EDDC's sport facilities, said it is aiming to get them resurfaced.

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Mr Ives said: "I was speaking to a qualified tennis coach recently who said the facilities (in Phear Park) were not just inadequate but unplayable.

"Public courts in nearby Sidmouth are well maintained but the ones in Exmouth are in a poor way.

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"Tennis should be an accessible, cost-effective sport, where people can just turn up and play without any hassle. The reality, sadly in Exmouth, is quite different."

And Mr Ives said, apart from Phear Park, there were few places in the town where people could play the sport.

"You can play at the indoor tennis and leisure centre but it can cost between �10 and �16 per hour, which is a lot of money in this economic climate."

Richard Benford, who lives across from Phear Park, blamed LED for not maintaining the park.

He said it even got to the point earlier this month, where members of the public marked the courts out with paint ready to be played on.

Mr Benford added: "This must have been embarrassing for the trust that they delegated the job to someone else and their own staff could not do it.

"Since LED have taken over the running of the facilities, as far as I'm concerned, they have let them go to rack and ruin."

David Pagett, LED chief executive, acknowledged that for a town the size of Exmouth, tennis facilities were poor compared with other towns in the county.

Mr Pagett, who said the surface in Phear Park was crumbling, added: "We are trying to persuade the council, as part of its capital programme, to put a scheme together to get them completely resurfaced.

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