Pictures: Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre opens in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
14:04 18 June 2014
Hockey and tennis have a new home in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre opened yesterday.
Members of the England hockey teams - fresh from a trip to Holland for the World Cup - joined two of Britain’s medal-winning Paralymians, wheelchair tennis players Jordanne Whiley and Lucy Shuker, to open the former Eton Manor venue.
Children from local schools and sports clubs were among the first to play on the new facilities.
I joined tennis player Sebastian Lawrence for a knock about on one of the new tennis courts, designed to the same standard as those used in the US Open.
He said: “There’s tons of courts and I think they’re really good.
“They’re a lot bouncier than the ones I normally play on, and they’re also a little bit slower.”
For those who prefer to watch rather than play sport, the venue is set to host several international hockey tournaments in the next four years, as well as the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters in November.
England and Team GB hockey player Kirsty Mackay came down to test out the new pitch, which has a capacity of 3,000 but can be increased to five times the size for major events.
She said: “It’s fantastic to have a venue where we can come and showcase the sport.
“We’re here every year until the 2018 World Cup; there’s going to be an event here every summer.
“They’ve done a fabulous job; it’s including all the local community.
“It’s a legacy from the Olympics and I think that’s the most important thing.”
The Hockey and Tennis Centre is the third former Games venue to operate under the Lee Valley name, following in the footsteps of the VeloPark, which opened earlier this year, and the White Water Centre in Waltham Cross.
Shaun Dawson, chief executive of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, said: “Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre is the last piece of the legacy jigsaw.
“It’s the last of the major venues - before the stadium, of course - to open to the public and it’s very exciting for hockey and tennis to be able to develop their sports in the Olympic Park.”
Players of all standards will have the opportunity to participate in a range of community, club and elite programmes.
Children will also be able to join in with an annual schools festival and holiday activities.
If you want to check out the venue for yourself, come along to the free open day on Saturday between 10am and 4pm and play hockey and tennis.