A VILLAGE tennis club has celebrated its 70th anniversary by opening a clubhouse and four all-weather courts as part of a £500,000 overhaul.

Little Clacton Tennis Club, off Holland Road, which had been at risk of closing, said it has finally completed the project following a 12-year planning battle.

Club secretary John Russel said the facility now rivals the best tennis clubs in the area.

It includes state-of-the-art LED lighting and the heated clubhouse meets national standards.

John said: “The club was in serious danger of folding only a few years ago as our old courts and clubhouse were well past their sell-by date.

“This project has given us a new lease of life and membership is booming.”

The project has been funded after Tendring Council planners allowed part of the site to be sold for the development of six bungalows, a proposal that saw objections from local residents.

John added: “To bring the old facilities up-to-date would have cost at least £80,000 and how a small club with only a few dozen members is expected to fund this is a real problem.

“By allowing a section of our land to be sold for housing the planners opened the door for a privately-funded locally-based resource that is still cheap for local people to use.

“This project has also left us financially secure for the next 20 years”

The club recently welcomed top tennis coach Chris Harris, who played nearly 80 times for England, and has also signed a deal with ex-international and Essex cricketer Neil Foster to use the clubhouse for his sports physiotherapy business.