SKIPTON looks set to make the most of being the only place in Craven to play the world's 'fastest growing sport' - Padel - with the building of two more courts.

Skipton Tennis Centre, at Sandylands, had been planning to put up a new building with four, indoor tennis courts. But, rising costs, over the Covid pandemic, pushed the project up from £500,000 to £1.3 million.

The plans, which had been in the pipeline for 10 years, have now been re-visited - and amendments made to the original planning consent given in 2019 to reflect the rise in popularity of Padel, which is a cross between tennis and squash.

Now, instead of a large new building with three new indoor tennis courts, the plan is to add to the one existing outdoor Padel court at Sandylands, with two more, which will be protected from the weather by canopies,and also three, outdoor, floodlit tennis courts.

The game is played by pairs and in a court, enclosed in a glass cage. The rules are easier to understand than tennis, and it is played using a ball slightly smaller and lighter than a tennis ball.

It is slower and softer than tennis, and people get to a higher standard of play more quickly.

Adam Cox, director of tennis at Sandylands, said he was confident of the increasing popularity of Padel, which began in Spain and is taking off in the US, and being able to secure the necessary funding of the phased project, which he hoped would begin in the next 12 months.

Adam, who has travelled to the US to study the game and to get advice from top coaches, added he was sure Padel would shortly become an Olympic sport.

"I said we need to build this in Skipton. We are currently the only place in the whole of the Craven district where you can play Padel, and we have people coming from places like Manchester to play. It became a bigger risk if we didn't do it," he said.

Adam believes the first phase of the development will start in the next 12 months and that eventually, it will mean a more than £1m investment in the sports facilities at Sandylands, and its work with schools across Craven. And, he is confident of getting the funding.

"This will make us more sustainable and it will add to the community, which is what we are all about."