The much-anticipated refurbishment of the derelict Maryhill tennis courts has started.

Construction has begun on the site following years of campaigning by volunteers and Friends of Maryhill Park (FOMP), who look after the area and the courts.

Not used to their full potential due to their run-down state, the courts are located in the North Glasgow park, next to the community garden.

The tennis courts were overgrown with weeds, neglected, and their usage is highly dependent on weather conditions according to Sarah Howitt, who is co-chairperson of Friends of Maryhill Park and Maryhill Community Tennis Club.

Glasgow Times: Picture of the courts from Friends of Maryhill ParkPicture of the courts from Friends of Maryhill Park

Glasgow Times: Judy Murray at a tennis session with children in MaryhillJudy Murray at a tennis session with children in Maryhill

Glasgow Times: The Judy Murray Foundation has been very supportive of the causeThe Judy Murray Foundation has been very supportive of the cause

Efforts to raise funds and awareness have been ongoing for four years but the cause gained significant attention when Judy Murray visited in 2019.

Her foundation also offered a generous £50,000 donation to support the upgrade with the aim to make the sport more accessible to the community.

Sarah Howitt, co-chairperson of FOMP and MCTC, said: “The fundraising hasn’t been easy, with costs rising many times, but we’ve scraped together just enough to allow the build to go ahead.

"We may still need to raise further funds for a changing block and toilet, but the fact that we are able to go ahead and build three full courts, and four mini-courts all with floodlighting is an absolute triumph.

“This project is all about community and bringing local people together. Tennis is seen as an elite sport, but five-year-olds don’t know that, they just know that the coaches teach them really fun games.

"We have kids from all over Maryhill and Summerston coming every week, and they’ve all been given a free racquet. For them, it’s all just fun.

"When the Judy Murray Foundation came along, it wasn’t all about building infrastructure, they made it very clear that the whole thing would only work if we had a ‘workforce’ in place to run it. Training coaches and keeping the kids interested, even without courts, was key.”

Glasgow Times: Work is underway on the siteWork is underway on the site

Glasgow Times: They are building three tarmac courts and four mini courtsThey are building three tarmac courts and four mini courts

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As we reported previously, the works were originally due to start in 2020, but were delayed when the pandemic hit.

Around £200,000 was raised over the years, coming from different grants, donations and fundraising efforts.

Now, the renovation is officially underway, with plans to turn the current red blaes courts into three tarmac courts and four mini-courts, to specifically encourage children to use them.

According to plans, the facility will be ready to use by August and will be run by a new local club, Maryhill Community Tennis Club (MCTC), in partnership with Glasgow Life.

Glasgow Times: The community is excited to start using the facilities againThe community is excited to start using the facilities again

Glasgow Times: The works are expected to be finished byAugustThe works are expected to be finished byAugust

The local community is excited by the development, including 60 primary school kids from the area, who are being coached by two dads Stuart McMillan and Craig McCarron.

Originally, they were hoping to use the courts but due to their state, they have mostly been training at local primary schools and hope to move once the upgrade is complete.

Mr McMillan, Coach and MCTC co-chairperson, said: “It’s been an amazing three years. I never thought for a second I’d be talking about setting up a permanent community tennis club and looking at coaching three times a week."

READ MORE: Judy Murray Maryhill tennis plan delayed by pandemic

Judy Murray, who was personally involved in the project, said: "Sport has the power to change lives and I’m so glad to have been able to play a part in making this facility happen at Maryhill Park along with a wonderful group of local people.

"It’s a perfect legacy for the Judy Murray Foundation which aimed to take tennis into rural and disadvantaged areas across Scotland by building local workforces to deliver coaching, competitions and come ‘n’ try events.

"Affordable, accessible public courts that are embedded into communities are vital for opening tennis up to everyone and getting our nation more active.”

Glasgow Times: The tennis courts are in Maryhill ParkThe tennis courts are in Maryhill Park

Bailie Annette Christie, chairperson of Glasgow Life and convener for Culture, Sport and International Relations for Glasgow City Council, said: “We are delighted the refurbishment of the Maryhill tennis courts is now under way, and have been so encouraged by the strong partnership working between all parties involved.

“Glasgow Life is committed to improving the mental and physical wellbeing of local communities, and we know the new courts in Maryhill will go a long way towards helping us achieve that goal.

"This wouldn’t have been possible without the strong relationships between partners, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Friends of Maryhill Park, Maryhill Community Tennis Club, Judy Murray, sportscotland and all local partners as the refurbishment progresses and we start to make plans for getting more people using the new courts.”