Welsh tennis officials are running out of time to safeguard the future of the National Tennis Centre in Cardiff Bay, after operators announced plans for closure.
Site owner Cardiff council has less than a month left to find new partners to take on the facility before August 23, when current tenant Virgin Active will vacate the centre.
Tennis Wales chief executive Peter Drew has warned that the centre may have to close for several months until a deal can be reached, leaving the city without its public access indoor tennis courts.
He said: “It would be difficult to push things through in that time frame. Unless something very surprising happens, the centre will have to close for at least a period of time.”
Tennis Wales, the sport’s governing body in Wales, which is affiliated to the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), occupies offices at the centre under a separate lease with Cardiff council.
Mr Drew confirmed that eight individuals and companies had expressed an interest in the facility and does not believe potential investors have been put off by the experiences of Virgin Active, who concluded their operations at the site were not “financially viable”.
News that the capital could lose its tennis facilities came just days after Andy Murray ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a men’s Wimbledon Champion.
A spokesman for Virgin Active said: “When we acquired the club from Esporta in July 2011 it was making a significant operating loss, and after two years of running the facility we have reached the conclusion that it is not financially viable for us to operate there.
“We are unable to say whether the facility will continue to operate after we leave.”
Cardiff Wheelchair Tennis Club has been based at the National Tennis Centre for 13 years and now its members fear for the club’s future.
Chairman Rhys Jones said: “The closure would have a huge impact on our members, because the National Tennis Centre is our home. It is a real worry for us and it would be sad if we had to move.”
Committee member Rhian Gregory said: “We were shocked and disappointed to hear of the plans for closure.”
A spokesman for Sport Wales confirmed the body was continuing to work with the LTA, Tennis Wales and Cardiff Council to look at all viable options for the centre.
He said: “Tennis membership in Wales is growing significantly, particularly in the juniors, while Tennis Wales has recently agreed an eight year plan with us with the ambitious objective of doubling community tennis participation in Wales.
“Clearly, maintaining key facilities is absolutely crucial for continuing and increasing this growth and we hope that options for the centre can be progressed as soon as possible.”