Lower Clarence Tennis Association

History

We are indebted to John Porter, a management committee member, for his work in producing this brief history of the club.

A Very Short History of the L.C.T.A.

If you want to read a simple, to the point, bite-sized history of the Lower Clarence Tennis Association (LCTA), then you only need to read this first paragraph. The LCTA was formed in 1926 and as such lays claim to being the oldest organized sporting body in the Lower Clarence. The original minutes book  can be viewed at the Maclean Museum, although interestingly the first three pages are missing. The second meeting was held on April 7th, 1926 at the Water Brigade Hall in Harwood and hence it is supposed that the initial meeting took place in the previous month.

If you would like to know a little more then keep on reading. The purpose of the LCTA was to “organize the tennis clubs of the Lower Clarence, to allow competitions to be organized between them.” Indeed there were many tennis clubs and courts throughout the Lower Clarence and therefore the LCTA aimed to bring a degree of consistency in competition between teams that competed in their competition. From the minutes it is apparent that the notion of  “consistency” was uppermost in the minds of the club. That consistency applied to: the length of matches; composition of teams; grading of players; and, even the types of ball used. For your information, Spalding balls were stipulated for the 1928 season ahead of the Barrett Glass Niber tennis ball. (I wonder what ever happened to them???) This was despite them providing samples of its balls as an inducement to tempt the L.C.T.A. to use them. (Maybe they just weren’t any good.)

The LCTA didn’t have a clubhouse or tennis courts that it could call its own. These were scattered throughout the valley. For example three of the original valley tennis courts were “Carters” at Palmers Channel, “Glencoe” at Chatsworth and “Highfield” at James Creek. There were also courts at Ashby and Mororo and other locations in the valley.

IMG_0002

The Highfield tennis court at James Creek was named after the property Highfield on which it stood. It is interesting to note that back then James Creek Rd followed the creek all the way to Yamba Rd.

Glencoe 1

Glencoe Tennis Court- Chatsworth Island.The Thursday ladies group in the 1920’s.

The first President of the LCTA was Mr. David Long and there were a staggeringly large number of Vice Presidents. It is highly likely that these were “diplomatic appointments” from the aforementioned clubs and courts in the valley and designed to help forge commitment and engender loyalty to the new association. The Vice Presidents were, Messers. Jack Carter, Jack Kanter, Frank Doust, Alec Mc Donald and Jim O’Keeffe. The Secretary and Treasurer was Mr. Alex Cameron and its patron was Mr. Ernie Want.

IMG_0006The legendary Jack Carter at Highfield.

 

 

 

 

Revenue of the L.C.T.A. in 1926 was the grand sum of four pounds and ten shillings ($9) and expenditure was two pounds and ten shillings ($5).( I’m sure that many clubs would like to retain more than 40% of the revenue in a financial year.)

The need for more tennis courts, and in particular a base in Maclean for the L.C.T.A. became the Association’s focus from 1957 onwards. At the Association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on April 4, 1957 a proposal was discussed “that would see Maclean Tennis Club provide three or more tennis courts and that Ryan Park be a centre-piece for tennis.” To wit, five pounds ($10) was donated for the proposed centre-piece.

Maclean Tennis Court 4

 

 

The opening of courts 3-6 at Ryan Park.

Brad Drewett and president Paul Bartley.

 

 

 

 

Not much action transpired during the next 25 years. However, 1983 became a watershed year with the L.C.T.A. Management Committee actively planning for the construction of the present Ryan Park complex. During the 1983-86 period, co-ordination with Maclean Shire Council and a large number of community services and businesses, combined with enormous fundraising by members of the LCTA saw the construction and official opening of four new courts in January 1986. This coincidently coincided with the LCTA’s Diamond Anniversary celebrations. During the following year, the present clubhouse was planned, built and opened; thus ending quite a remarkable four year flurry of furious building activity.

Maclean Tennis Court 2

 

 

The new clubhouse at Ryan Park 1985.

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan Park has remained basically the same since that time with the site being maintained by a regular turnover of volunteers; all motivated by their love of outdoor exercise and the game of tennis. Ryan Park though, has become more central to the valley’s tennis interests as other courts in the valley have deteriorated, closed or been ripped up for other development.

Currently the LCTA has approximately 190 members, ranging in age from 5 to 85. Their aim is to enjoy playing tennis and to continue as those before have done in maintaining and improving the facilities to enable tennis to be played in the Lower Clarence. On that score, since Ryan Park’s opening, Courts 3-6 were resurfaced in 1993 and 2010, Courts 1&2 were rebuilt in 2005 and Courts 3& 4 are undergoing resurfacing in 2014.

If you have read this far, then my brief history of the Lower Clarence Tennis Association couldn’t have been as boring as my cynical daughter prophesied it would be. By no means do I claim this to be a definitive history, because for brevity, I have smoothed over periods of time with some generalizations. If there are glaring omissions or errors, it would be interesting, for the sake of posterity, to learn about them.  The LCTA would also welcome individual recollections and stories from the past that may be of interest.

And finally, I would like to thank the following people for their assistance with my research;                                                                                  *Mrs. Margaret Switzer of Maclean Historical Society.

*Mrs. Trish Bowes of the History Faculty of Maclean High School. Her dredging the vaults of time unearthed a rare gem…The 1927 inter-district tournament, played in Grafton, resulted in 3 Lower Clarence players hospitalized with Ptomaine (food) poisoning after attending the provided luncheon.

*The unknown person(s) who edited “The Tennis Racket(sic)”, an LCTA newsletter published during the 1983-86 period. These editions are a veritable treasure trove of information.

 

John Porter. (October)