College Sport | Posted 25.05.2017

Glassbrook Tennis Dome opened by Tim Henman

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.

The new 1,375m2 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 blessing from Fr John Twist SJ and then an afternoon tea at St Mary’s Hall 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 championship-standard tennis courts. It was designed to the same specification as other prestigious facilities such as The Queen’s Club, London, and will represent a North West centre of excellence for tennis. The hub will be used by both St Mary’s Hall and the College for tennis lessons and matches, and will also be able to be booked by the public when available.

The dome, which took nine months to build, is energy efficient and features a double-skin construction inflated using heated air to provide all-year-round use. 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.

Stonyhurst’s Headmaster John Browne said: “We’re very big on sports and this is a great development which should help more people get involved in tennis across the community. It’s very exciting to get Tim Henman to open it. Many young people dream of playing sports around the world like he did and – who knows? – this centre could help make a Wimbledon finalist.”

Headmaster at 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 leap forwards in terms of what we can offer here at Stonyhurst, not just for our pupils but for the wider community.”

The school 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 opportunity to 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.”

Guest of honour Tim Henman, said he was impressed by the new centre and hoped it will encourage people to get involved with the sport.  He said: “Hopefully it will get people from all over the area interested in the sport and playing tennis by having this brilliant hub here. My interest from tennis came from having courts at school, so it’s great that this generation will have the chance to get involved. We want to be able to have facilities like this all over the country. It’s fantastic. 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 courts worn due to the demand from the children to play the sport.”

In the last twelve 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 ten existing outdoor tennis courts. Lauren Banks said: “We have a huge number of kids playing tennis already, it’s one of our biggest sports.”

For more information about the tennis coaching programme and facilities at Stonyhurst, please contact the Director of Tennis: tennis@stonyhurst.ac.uk. For court hire, please email sportsclub@stonyhurst.ac.uk or call the Sports Centre 01254 827015.