These youngsters were the first to try out their forehand at Oxford’s first floodlit public tennis court at Florence Park.
The new facilities were officially opened last week, following a joint £264,000 investment by the Lawn Tennis Association and Oxford City Council.
School children, families and players joined the LTA President Martin Corrie and city council representatives for the official switch on last Thursday to show off the new facilities, which also included new nets and posts for all five courts.
New lights will mean an extra 5,000 hours of play a year for residents – and could even help find Britain’s next Andy Murray.
Councillor Linda Smith, Oxford City Council’s executive member for leisure, sport and parks, described the opening as “great news”.
She said: “The extra playing hours created by the new lighting will mean there will be more opportunity than ever before for Oxford residents to play.
“I know the ability to play until late in the evening will be a god-send for many keen players who lead busy lives.
“Florence Park already has a ‘green flag’ award for the high quality of its facilities, and the upgraded tennis courts will further add to its attraction.”
Florence Park’s re-opening is part of a range of community initiatives to improve active participation in the sport.
Online bookings and improved coaching has helped the number of court bookings leap from 10,000 to 21,000 in the last two years.
The improvements to Florence Park are part of the LTA’s Transforming British Tennis Together campaign – a £125million investment in grassroots tennis facilities over the next 10 years.
The initiative aims to get more people playing for longer by doubling the number of floodlit and covered courts and by installing more online booking and entry systems to make it easier for people to play.
LTA community business manager Nina Graveson-Bridge said: “There’s been a huge increase in people playing tennis in Oxford.
“These floodlit facilities will enable even more people to get on court by extending playing time. However, barriers to playing such as bad weather and darkness still remain.”