Budding tennis players gained tips from the top as former British No 1 Tim Henman played guest of honour at the opening of a new world-class tennis dome at Stonyhurst College, Clitheroe today.
The new 1,375 sq metre air dome facility titled 'the Glassbrook Dome' was officially opened by the four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist.
The tennis legend was on hand to share his expert tips and meet with pupils via an interactive coaching session on court. This was followed by a traditional Stonyhurst blessing and afternoon tea celebration for guests. Tennis balls were autographed by Tim Henman as a memento of the opening.
The facility, supplied by Bridome Ltd and manufactured in Italy, is 10m high and offers two Grand Slam size tennis courts. It was designed to the same specification as other prestigious facilities such as The Queen's Club, London.
The courts themselves constructed by Doe Sport Ltd, Scotland match those used for the renowned indoor Davis Cup tournaments, making it a North West centre of excellence for tennis.
The dome, which took nine months to build, is energy efficient and features a double skin construction using inflated heated air to secure 365-day use. It offers high-performing acoustics and glare-free playingconditions.
In the last 12 months Stonyhurst has appointed two professional tennis coaches who work and live in the school's community; JJ Garcia Gomez and Lauren Banks. It also has 10 existing outdoor tennis courts.
The investment in the sport is part of Stonyhurst's vision to take its renowned Tennis Programme to a new level and achieve LTA Clubmark Plus Accreditation.
Headmaster at Stonyhurst St Mary's Hall, Ian Murphy, said: "Participation in sport can help enhance academic performance and foster collaboration, self-confidence and leadership skills.
The Glassbrook Dome represents a huge and significant leap in terms of what we can offer here at Stonyhurst, not just for our pupils but for the wider community."
The College offers a 'sport for all' culture supporting not just elite performers but encouraging more people to embrace sport.
Simon Glassbrook, Chairman of the External Relations Committee at Stonyhurst, added: "Tennis is a sport which requires equipped spaces to play, train and experience the sport all year round.
"In Britain with our unpredictable weather that's a tough ask and so it's been a personal ambition of mine to make this happen so every individual, whether they are a novice or expert player the opportunityto enjoy the sport. The new facilities and top quality training programmes at Stonyhurst will nurture the next generation of players. It's a proud day to see all that come together."
Tim Henman said: “It was a privilege and honour to be invited to officially open the Glassbrook Tennis Dome. It really is a top-class facility which will create a multitude ofopportunities for children of all ages to enjoy the all-round benefits of tennis. Today I experienced northern hospitality at its best, the children were so full of energy and passion. It was a pleasure to be part of such a momentous occasion and I hope to return next year and see the courtsworn due to the demand from the children to play the sport."
For more information about the tennis coaching programme and facilities at Stonyhurst, contact the Director of tennis, email firstname.lastname@example.org.