BOLTON Arena is to become a tennis centre of excellence as part of a restructure by the sport's national body.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has named the arena one of just 11 regional player development centres which will form part of its new plans to develop young tennis players around the country.

Bolton Arena is the only centre in the north of England and the focus will be on those aged 10-14.

Stuart Kay, head of sports at the arena, said: "The LTA have launched a new strategy.

"As a regional centre we're going to bring players from Yorkshire, Cumbria and Cheshire that will come to play with their peers and older players.

"The progress here will be a lot better than other areas.

"It's fantastic for Bolton to be in the mix."

As part of the LTA's new 10-year performance strategy two national academies have been announced at University of Stirling and Loughborough University.

Mr Kay revealed Bolton Arena could have thrown its hat in the ring to become a national academy but chose not to for fear they might lose independence.

However, he did not rule out the arena becoming an academy in the future. The LTA has said regional centres could in turn become national academies.

LTA’s performance director, Simon Timson, said: “The single biggest challenge in developing a pipeline of future tennis champions in the UK is the lack of transformative, full-time, residential, pro-style training environments for our brightest talent in their teenage years.

“That’s why I am delighted to announce Stirling and Loughborough as the homes of Britain’s first National Academies. They will be at the heart of our new player pathway for aspiring future champions.

"National Academies will offer our highest potential 18 and under players the opportunity to train together in a vibrant environment, with world-class facilities and the best coaches, science, medicine and welfare expertise, nurturing a new wave of talent and future British champions.

“It’s our ambition to provide world-class support to players, coaches and parents and ensure they all have a seamless experience through the new performance pathway.

"Together with our new Regional Player Development Centres, our new National Academies will help us meet our objective of making GB one of the most respected tennis nations in the world for player development."

To support the new performance strategy for British tennis, the LTA has formed a performance advisory group comprising of Jamie Delgado — coach to Andy Murray and former player; Sam Smith broadcaster and former British number one and Tim Henman, four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist and world number four.

They will support the LTA in continually reviewing and evolving the performance strategy.

LTA’s chief executive, Scott Lloyd, said: "The success of British players in recent years has given tennis in Britain a huge boost. Our priority now is building on this success."