With the continued success of Andy Murray and the rapid rise of Johanna Konta, Britain has a strong presence at tennis’ top table.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) are hard at work nurturing the grassroots of the game, trying to encourage as many people, young and old, to take up the sport as possible.

And for Kennington’s Jack Bayley, one initiative has been vital to getting him back playing the sport he loves.

Jack plays in Kennington as part of the Local Tennis Leagues scheme, and is loving every minute of it. 

Designed to create a unique playing experience of mixed-sex singles and doubles matches, as well as women’s-only leagues, the Local Tennis Leagues operate in all areas of the UK and represent a revolution in public and park tennis.

After signing up, players create their own online account where they receive the contact details of their opponents, which allow them to schedule matches as well as receive regular updates, reminders and incentives to play. 

And the scheme has been a vital catalyst for Jack, a project manager at Sky, to pick up his racquet on a more regular basis.

“For me it was about playing more tennis, more sociable tennis and making more friends who played in the sport,” said the 39-year-old.

“I’ve now got a group of regular partners who I play with outside of a league, who’ve met there, so it’s the chance to compete, being able to join the LTA, and being able to work on my lowly ranking a bit has been a lot of fun, but I’ve also built up a group of regular faces who I know on the courts – it’s been great.

“It’s a great way to start competing with people, which in itself is a good way of building up and improving on the game, and there’s always a lot of discussion on the courts afterwards about the exchange of ideas, and you get to meet people and play the style of tennis that you might not have ever played before, due to the competition on the courts.

“The friendliness of it really makes it. If it didn’t have that kind of vibe to it, it just would not be fun.

“And the way it’s been implemented by word of mouth, and advertised on court, the people that get involved are primarily there to enjoy tennis.”

Aimed at everyday players who use parks and public courts, Local Tennis Leagues is among a number of initiatives supported by the LTA, the governing body of tennis in the UK.

All told, the LTA is investing more than £125 million in public access tennis, much of which will be spent on renewing public courts, and ventures like Local Tennis Leagues have helped changed perceptions of tennis.

Through grassroots initiatives like this, the LTA is keen to demonstrate that tennis is anything but an elitist sport.

And while the leagues embody a friendly ethos, all players are entitled to become British Tennis Members and have their results reported to the LTA for ratings.

The diversity of competition within the league is something Jack believes to be another unique quality to its appeal.

“I’m bang in the middle of the age range, so playing against people who run me off the court is one challenge, but then coming up against an older person who is wily and have all the angles provides a different test,” he added.

“It’s really valuable to see and that really helps develop your own game as well.

“The league has been pivotal in getting me back into tennis in a big way – I played quite a lot when I was younger.

“I learned a lot on clay courts in America when I was very young, played up until I was about 18 or 19, and then stopped for about 10 or 15 years, although I played occasionally with my dad.

“Then I spotted the leagues in Kennington and picked it up from there, so the amount of tennis I play now is a result of the league.”

Are you looking to play more friendly, competitive singles matches? The next round of the Kennington and Brockwell Parks Tennis League begins on 28 September 2017.  To join, visit localtennisleagues.com/kbleague and sign up before 25 September 2017. The rounds lasts eight weeks and costs £18 to join, but get 20% off the next round with promo code Save-P20.