Game, set, match… the best places to ace your tennis skills in London
Southwark Park SE16
Only a 15-minute walk from Surrey Quays station you’ll find the free tennis courts of Southwark Park. Depending on the time of day you’re playing, either head to the park café for a coffee and croissant or a post-match beer at the Stanley Arms which is across the other side of the park.
Streatham Vale Park SW16
These free (we’re spoiling you now aren’t we with all these freebies) community tennis courts are usually fairly empty, so if you’re not a fan of prying eyes whilst you practice these are a great option. Find them only 5-minutes from Streatham station.
Dulwich Park SE21
Come for the tennis and stay for the whole day is the attitude when coming to Dulwich. This leafy enclave of south London is so picturesque you’ll feel like you’ve just landed in a quaint Surrey village. The tennis courts here are surprisingly free despite being in an extremely wealthy pocket of south London. Dulwich park is also home to a boating lake and café, but you’d be better off leaving the park and exploring the independent coffee shops and French patisseries of the village. Grab a train from Victoria or London Bridge heading to North Dulwich or West Dulwich, or alternatively take the P4 bus from Brixton.
Clapham Common SW4
Find these courts on the south side of the common, only five-minutes from Clapham South underground station. These courts are not free, but can booked for the very modest sum of £5. They have the added bonus of being open from 8am-10pm in the summer, so if you’re an early bird or a night owl, you can practice no matter the time. Call 020 7223 9837 to book.
All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon SW20
You don’t really think we could write a Wimbledon blog without including the big guns do you? Ok, so you might only be able to play on these hallowed courts if you know three Wimbledon members but there are other options. The All England Lawn Tennis Community Sports Ground might be located 3.5 miles from Wimbledon in Raynes Park, but it is still very much associated with Wimbledon and it’s pay and play so available to all. Book online here.
Chiswick Tennis Centre W4
Not to be mistaken with Chiswick Tennis Club (slightly confusing yes), Chiswick Tennis Centre has seven hard courts, changing rooms, sports shop and café. The courts are open all year round with the pavilion open from 9am-8pm daily (weather permitting). Occasional users pay £8 an hour with Smartcard users paying £7. If you have a freedom pass or student ID you can take £1 off both prices, and there’s a free walk-on hour between 3-4pm daily.
Lincoln’s Inn Fields WC2
Located in the heart of Holborn, these hard tennis courts are open from 8am-dusk all year round. Prices range from £11.70-11.90 for an hour. There don’t have a café or changing facilities so bring everything you need and try to take public transport where you can as there are no free parking spaces nearby.
Holland Park W8
What more could you want from a tennis court than to be situated in one of the prettiest parks in London. Walk only a few moments from Holland Park underground station and you’ll find yourself in the picturesque Japanese Gardens of this lush west London park. Follow through the park and find yourself at the tennis courts. They cost £8.20 per hour to hire for a casual booking basis, or if you get serious about your tennis skills you can enquire into a seasonal membership. Racquets and balls can also be hired.
Kensington Memorial Ground W10
Open from 7:30am-10pm, these three hard courts are located close to Ladbroke Grove station in the heart of Kensington and Chelsea. They must be booked in advance of use (use the PlayFinder website here for easy booking) for around £8.20 an hour per adult. The shops, restaurants and cafes of the surrounding area make it tempting to play and then stay, grabbing lunch or even a smoothie from Whole Foods before jumping on the tube.
Regent’s Park Tennis Centre NW1
North Londoners (or those who just love London’s royal parks) can head to the west side of Regent’s Park to brush up on their tennis skills. They have 12 hard courts, with four of these floodlit, and over 100 acres of park to enjoy. Interestingly this tennis centre was the first non-council facility to receive Lawn Tennis Associate accreditation and it’s now run by Will To Win who work with the rest of the Royal Parks. Bookings can either be made online, in person or telephone. Courts cost £10 per court, per hour, rising to £12 after 5pm.
Islington Tennis Centre N7
The main benefit of the Islington Tennis Centre is that is offers not only two outdoor courts but also six indoor courts – perfect for our unpredictable English summer. For pay and play it’ll cost you £28 for an indoor court and £10 for an outdoor version. Racquets are available to hire and they have toilets, vending machines and changing rooms on site.
Waterlow Park N6
Located close to Archway Underground Station, Waterlow Park offers hard tennis courts that are very well maintained, perfect for singles or doubles practice. Book from around £8.70 an hour from 8am-dusk. There are car parking facilities at the park but remember to bring change if you decide to drive. Either pay and play on a one-off basis or enquire about a 10-week block booking if you fancy some alfresco sport during the late summer.
Clissold Park N16
Part of the Hackney Tennis group, Clissold Park was first opened in 1889 and swiftly became one of Hackney’s most loved parks. Alongside tennis courts the park features the Grade II listed Clissold House, an aviary, café, fountains, children’s play area, paddling pools and more. It really is the perfect family day out. In terms of tennis, the park has eight full sized courts and two mini courts.
Highgate Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club N8
An incredibly upmarket tennis club, Highgate offers social players some of the best courts in the whole of North London. Members or social players can enjoy nine floodlit hard courts, three shale courts and five main club courts. Throughout the summer expect to socially play on Tuesday and Thursday 7pm-late and Saturday and Sunday from 2pm-6pm. From October-March there are weekend courts available from 1pm-5pm. If you’re enjoying playing you can join their teams and tournaments to play single and doubles. In the school holidays they offer kids coaching camps to keep your little ones fit and healthy.
Bethnal Green Gardens E2
Another pay to play centre, enjoy four floodlit macadam courts in the heart of Tower Hamlets. It’s a busy centre so make sure you try and get there early. It costs a reasonable £6 to play per adult o perfect for a weekend jaunt or post-work play.
London Fields E8
Located between London Fields and Haggerston Overground stations, London Fields tennis courts are open from the slightly later 10am-dusk, seven days a week. In conjunction with Hackney Tennis, they offer adult and children coaching sessions and summer sessions to practice with the help of a professional.
Hackney Downs Park E5
Close to Hackney Central and Hackney Downs Overground, Hackney Downs Park is open from 8am-dusk seven days a week. These hard courts are extremely well managed and are in perfect condition. Once you’ve finished playing you can enjoy the rest of the park, or head into Hackney for a bite to eat.
Victoria Park Hackney E9
Only £6 a session, these four porous hard courts are available to book from 8am-dusk. Located in the vast Victoria Park close to Hackney Wick. As one of London’s most visited parks (9 million visitors a year) it’s worth allowing some time after tennis to explore all 86 hectares. Make sure you find the Chinese pagoda island in one of the two lakes for a wonderful photo opportunity and a moment of calm. Hungry? Head to the pavilion café for a post-match coffee and cake (or a smoothie if you’re feeling virtuous).
Also part of Hackney Tennis, Millfields Tennis is in a truly beautiful location. Only moments from Hackney marshes and the canals, it’s a wonderful spot to go for a post-play wander, especially on a sunny day. Close to both Homerton, Clapton and Hackney Central Overground stations it’s a fantastic option for anyone wanting a full day out.
Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre E20
Located in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Lee Valley offers sessions for beginners right up to advanced players. They have six outdoors and four indoor courts that are available all year round for both a sunny summer session and a brisk winter game. Budding junior tennis players can learn from the best, as can adults. They also provide disability coaching as well, offering a complete package. Courts are available for only £8 an hour. Book here.
So there you have it, the best tennis courts no matter which side of the river you live on. Do let us know via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook if you visit any of the above or you think we’ve missed any!
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