The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) will soon announce a two-year funding freeze for grassroots projects, The Independent on Sunday reports.
Coming on the heels of Andy Murray’s title run at Wimbledon, sources told the newspaper that the LTA is planning to prioritize the pro game over grassroots tennis.
The LTA will announce that any club wanting to expand or improve its infrastructure will receive only interest-free loans rather than grants. Participation in tennis in Britain is said to be rising after Murray’s win, although Sport England reported earlier this year that the number of adults playing the game at least once a week since 2008 had fallen from 487,500 to 424,300.
"There is only a certain amount of money at the LTA and something has to give, but it will be a shame if grassroots projects are being hit at a time when we all want to capitalize on the interest around the UK after Andy's fantastic year,” a source told the newspaper.
Current LTA chief executive Roger Draper will step down at the end of this year and be replaced by Michael Downey, the current head of Tennis Canada, who in the past six years has helped increase the number of regular players on public courts in his native country by 30 percent.
An LTA spokesman told the Independent that it is in the process of “writing a new facility strategy and, until this has been agreed and published, the LTA will be investing funding into areas of high population and latent demand for tennis, for facilities that can demonstrate how they will get more people playing more often."
Andy Murray – who is sidelined with a back injury — tweeted a link to the Independent article and could weigh in on the subject soon.