FOUR new tennis courts, part of a £1million improvement programme, will be officially opened at the East Dorset Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club on Saturday.

The artificial all-weather clay courts will replace the Poole club's four existing hard courts, which after 16 years had deteriorated significantly.

Club tennis chairman Sue Hobden explained: "Having become a charity in 2017 and recently celebrated a record attendance at our annual community fireworks event, the new courts are part of an investment package that will see a transformation of East Dorset Lawn Tennis Club with an anticipated spend in excess of £1 million over the next few years."

Other improvements recently completed include floodlighting on all ten of the club's all-weather courts.

Ms Hobden added: "Extensive improvements to our clubhouse have already started with a newly refurbished bar area. A new caterer has taken over the café and the kitchen is in the process of being upgraded. Future developments will see further changes to the clubhouse and the anticipated construction of an indoor tennis facility."

The club's head coach Brian MacFadden explained clay is not only one of the best surfaces for elite tournaments, it is the best surface for player development.

"All countries with the best players in the world do the majority of their training on clay," he said.

Mr MacFadden added: "Our research identified Lano Grand Clay as the best all weather artificial clay court and the one closet to true clay. East Dorset is one of the very few clubs in the area with a coaching program covering all ability levels that is accessible to non-members."

Meanwhile, club president Clive Richardson said: "Our artificial clay courts will be the only ones available within 40 miles of Poole and Bournemouth and we have already seen membership numbers increase in anticipation, not only from former members rejoining but also an influx of new ones."

The official opening event, set for Saturday, March 24, between 1.30-4pm, will include playing tips from twice men's Dorset champion Louis Allen and national junior doubles champ James Davidson.

Members and non-members are welcome to attend.

East Dorset Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club is located at Salterns Road, Lower Parkstone, Poole.