A TENNIS player has accused Oxford universities of ‘taking over’ a South Oxfordshire leisure centre by block booking sessions.

Jeremy Woods said he and a group of friends had found it ‘almost impossible’ to book a court this winter at White Horse Tennis and Leisure Centre as Oxford Brookes Tennis Club and Oxford University Lawn Tennis Club had taken all six available courts.

He said: “I am concerned that this public pay-and-play indoor tennis facility has been all but taken over by them this winter.

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“I have played there regularly for over ten years with friends on Sunday evenings but in recent months we have found it almost impossible to book a court as they are block-booked by the universities for their tennis clubs.”

The 57-year-old, from Wolvercote, added: “It is important that young people are given the opportunity to play and receive coaching here but equally important that paying members of the public are able to access the courts given that this is not a private or university owned venue.”

After further frustration on Sunday, Mr Woods put in a complaint to the leisure centre.

An email, seen by the Oxford Mail, from Sue Auger, the Audlett Drive centre’s tennis manager, at first told Mr Woods things were particularly busy right now but the courts would free up once the booking ended in March.

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But Mr Woods responded that the problem needed a more long term solution and he believed the booking system was being “unfairly circumvented in favour of certain users so that ordinary members of the public have no chance of booking.”

Ms Auger in a further reply said that she had spoken with the university club, though does not say which one, about the issue and they had agreed from next winter they would not be able to book more than four courts at a time.

Mr Woods said he was pleased with the quick resolution but added: “It has been a problem for some time during the winter as no one can play outside.

"At least now we should have a fighting chance though."