Following two years of struggle and uncertainty due to the Covid pandemic, players at a small tennis club are celebrating as their historic venue has been given a total overhaul.
The members of Crosshill Tennis Club, in the Billinge End area of Blackburn, have been assisted by Blackburn with Darwen Council’s business rate relief fund, which has enabled them to embark on a series of improvements to the historic venue.
The club, which has more than 100 years of history and ambitions behind it, has been redeveloped with the addition of new nets for the courts, new posts and lines and most of all the complete resurfacing of two of the five courts with two tonnes of imported Terre-Davis, crushed Italian brick dust used on clay courts.
The brick dust is the same mineral used at the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters, the Italian Open at the palatial Foro Italico in Rome, and the British National Tennis Center in London, making it the only club north of Birmingham, and one of very few this side of the channel, to enjoy playing on a clay surface.
Club captain and committee member Alan True said: “Some great people who had been requisite to the survival of this club for many years and in some very testing times moved on.
“They left the club and with good reason and we will forever be indebted to them for what they did.
“However going forward, without the immense efforts of club chairman Waqar Hussein, treasurer, coach and team member Mohib Patel, welfare officer and team member Seamus Heffernan, secretary Seeraz Garda and the ubiquitous Johnson family, we’d be hanging on by our clay ingrained fingernails now and a long way from Italian clay.
“These people infused this club with much needed, high octane levels of enthusiasm and belief, and as a venue for what are faintly exotic and almost more meditteranean surroundings in which to play the game, our status, facilities and social membership are growing exponentially and the future is bright for this club…orange in fact.
“If you do fancy taking up the sport (before Wimbledon makes you regret not doing it sooner) but are wary of your skill level or indeed the stigmas that have attached themselves to tennis clubs in the past then come to us.
“We are quite definitely an urban, working class club, albeit in an elevated environment. At one with nature, surrounded by trees, without road access, copious wildlife and few, if any distractions.
“We run regular sessions of all abilities, or you could be here with friends and family finding your own way into the sport.
“That said the club is always looking for players who enjoy the challenge of league tennis.”
Crosshill currently stand third in the third division of the HEAD East Lancs Tennis League.
They also have a new members and beginners night on Mondays from 5pm onwards when newcomers are encouraged to come along and take a look.
Mr True added: “We love our club and we’re very proud of it, we love the romance of the clay, Guilermo Vilas and Rafael Nadal.
“It’s the Monte Carlo Club with a view out over the Med’, it’s the same exciting orange clay of the Foro Italico in Rome, or it’s a five minute drive up Preston New Road from Blackburn town centre.
“It’s wherever you’d like it to be on any given day…the town should be proud of it.
“We are a truly diverse club and this has happened just as it should do, no virtue signaling, nothing forced but honestly and organically born out of a shared commitment, reciprocated passion for the sport, a place in our home town and genuine friendships that followed.
“You’ll always receive a warm and courteous welcome at Blackburn’s most stunning and historic sporting venue.”
Details of annual membership fees can be found on the Cross Hill Tennis Club website.