GRASS tennis courts where new Wimbledon champion Andy Murray made his first steps on the road to glory are under threat of becoming football pitches instead.
The Civil Service Lawn Tennis Club (CSLTC), has the use of 19 grass courts at Dukes Meadows, in Chiswick.
But the courts owner, King’s House preparatory school in Richmond, has asked Hounslow Council if it can convert 14 courts into floodlit football pitches and two floodlit all-weather courts, all for community use.
Club members are devastated at the proposal, so soon after Murray’s sensational victory over Serbian Novak Djokovic.
John Mathers, a member, said: “Just as Andy Murray wins Wimbledon, they want to get rid of all these grass courts. It would be such a shame because they’re very hard to come by.
“I’ve only been a member for two months and joined for the wonderful courts.
“There is really nothing like playing tennis on grass.”
He was so upset by the proposal, aired at a Chiswick Area Forum on Tuesday, that he ‘tweeted’ Murray directly, asking him to step in.
Murray will remember the courts because they were where he entered a Wimbledon pre-qualifying event 10 years ago, but was defeated in the final round by Dave Sanger.
Mr Mathers, who has yet to receive a reply from Murray, added that his club is also very disappointed with the Lawn Tennis Association, which has raised no objection to the school’s proposals.
However, Mr Sanger has lent his support to the campaign to save the courts. In a message to Tuesday’s meeting he said: “I hope you are able to save the courts because they must be the pride of the club and of Chiswick.”
One ray of hope in the campaign is the recommendation by Hounslow Council planning officers that the application is rejected.
The Lawn Tennis Association refuses to intervene, saying it could not afford to invest in the courts even if it was invited to.
The bursar at King’s House, Kim Golightly, told the Chronicle: “We really encourage tennis at the school but it’s not feasible to keep spending a vast amount of money on the upkeep of grass courts which can only really be used in the summer, when children are not at school.
“By transforming these 14 courts our boys and many of the schools we work with in Hounslow will be able to play tennis and other sports all year round.
“We believe we did not get a fair hearing at the meeting, and feel six grass courts and two extra artificial courts is a good amount.”