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Welsh National Tennis Centre to close

The National Tennis Centre in Cardiff is to close, operators have announced – just days after Andy Murray ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a men’s Wimbledon Champion.

Virgin Active, which has run the facility in Cardiff Bay since 2011, said it had been forced to make the decision after making a “significant operating loss.”

Wales Online understands that the LTA-affiliated Tennis Wales, the sport’s governing body in Wales which is based at the national centre, is holding crisis talks with Cardiff Council to save the facility.

The centre which is leased by Virgin Active, from which Cardiff Council received a £995,000 grant from the LTA in 1996.

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.

“Tennis Wales occupy offices at the club under a separate lease with the local council.

“We are unable to say whether the facility will continue to operate after we leave.

“We continue to invest heavily in our racquets clubs across the UK.”

Peter Drew, chief executive of Tennis Wales, the Welsh arm of the Lawn Tennis Association said: “Once we knew of Virgin Active’s plans we immediately began discussions with Cardiff Council with the intent of sourcing new partners for the centre.

“The situation is that Virign will close its operations in Cardiff on August 23.

“That obviously does not give us a huge amount of time but we working hard to find a new partner before that date.

“In terms of the centre’s future I am optimistic that this is a small glitch.”

Mr Drew added: “The timing of this, after the Andy Murray positive news story for British tennis is obviously not ideal but it is what it is.

“Last year after Murray made the Wimbledon final, won the Olympics and the US Open we saw a significant spike in interest, especially from young people.

“After his success on Sunday we are anticipating an even bigger spike and we see no reason why this glitch would have an effect on our long-term plans to benefit from the Andy Murray effect.

“In Evan Hoyt from Llanelli, who has just been competing in Junior Wimbledon we have one of the best junior tennis players in the world.

“We have other younger players who have already represented Great Britain and we will hopefully see them and others emerging and developing in the coming years.”

This week LTA chief executive Roger Draper defended facilities for emerging players in the wake of Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory, amid accusations that British tennis is elitist and lacks depth.

An LTA spokesperson said: “As soon as we found about this, earlier this week, we entered into intensive discussions with the council to look at how we can protect the tennis facilities at this site.

“We are very committed to working with the council to identify other potential partners who could deliver a tennis programme at the centre. Those discussions are on-going.”

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