Coronavirus: LTA allocates £20 million as support

The Lawn Tennis Association, which governs the game in Britain, has pledged £20 million to ensure a healthy revival of sport in the UK.

A general view outside the centre court at the All-England Tennis and Croquet Club in London   -  Getty Images

The cancellation of Wimbledon this year has dealt a serious blow to the tennis fraternity around the world, as global health has been thrown into disarray by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), which governs the game in Britain, however, has swung into action and pledged about £20 million pounds to tennis venues, coaches, officials and players, to ensure a healthy revival of the sport in England, Scotland and Wales.

The measure has been aimed to protect the grassroots of the sport, even as it aspires to support the professional players and coaches, including financial grants to lower ranked players.

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"Our primary objective in announcing these unprecedented measures is to ensure clubs and venues remain viable and coaches and officials are not lost to the sport," said Scott Lloyd, the LTA Chief Executive, in a statement. The LTA Executive also decided to take a 20% pay cut.

Most significantly, ATP/WTA ranked players in the 101-750 bracket in singles and 101-250 in doubles will get appropriate grants. There will also be increased prize money and tournament bonus when events revive. There is also provision of home fitness training kits with virtual training sessions plus remote science and medicine services to targeted player groups.

Through a combination of its schemes, the LTA aims to open up tennis "to many more people" and help people "easily find and book tennis courts and activities".

The financial commitment includes, repayment holiday on loans up to six months for all existing LTA facility loans, to the tune of one million pounds in all. An equal amount will reach the tennis fraternity through the refund of registration fee for venues for 2019-20. Hardship fund of about £13.5 million has been kept for providing interest free loans of up to £5,000.

About four million pounds would be provided as financial grants for LTA accredited coaches and tutors, apart from a separate fund of about one million pounds for interest free loans for coaches up to £5,000.

That apart there will be free access to online professional development courses, extension of temporary accreditation for coaches wherever required. There will also be support for tournaments canceled where the entry fee for players may have been reimbursed.

Apart from the two national academies, over 60 regional academies will continue to get funds to return to operations on resumption of tennis.

In return for all the support, the LTA would ask the concerned players and coaches etc., to commit their time to help open up tennis to more people in their area when the game resumes.

As part of its campaign of Tennis at Home, to tackle the current crisis of coronavirus pandemic, the LTA will also be donating thousands of racquets and tennis activity cards to children in disadvantaged communities.

The Indian tennis associaiton and the Indian sports administration may perhaps start looking at ways and means to do their bit for the games, by the inspiring efforts of the LTA.

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