Merimbula Tennis Club

Club History

History of the Merimbula Tennis Club & Veteran Tennis

The earliest reports show that the first public tennis courts were in the Palmer Estate, which is now the shops & carpark behind the Newsagency & Festival Supermarket etc., with another court behind the Hotel and a private court owned by Syd Ford in Main Street

The next public courts were made on land donated by Keith Chirnside for that purpose (1936), the area allowed the committee to build 2 gravel courts and a small shed and toilet for the convenience of the players. There is no record of when this took place but by the look of the fence it had been there quite a while by 1951, they were on the site that is now occupied by Telopea Court apartments opposite the Bowling Club.

Tennis was very strong in the 50’s but declined in the 60’s where it reached its lowest ebb in 1967 where it is recorded there was an attendance of nil at the Annual Meeting. The few remaining players then played at Pambula & Bega. There was a revival of tennis in the area when Val Currie, Alan Gale, Dave Funnel with the aid of the Grade 6 children from the local school started chipping the grass from the courts. The main reason being that these parents were keen for their children to learn tennis and needed the court for this purpose.

By 1973 tennis was reborn in the area to the extent that at the Annual meeting a motion was put suggesting that the Club should shift to an area where more courts could be laid out. The result of this was a motion was put to a meeting in 1974 – That the incoming Committee approach the Council with the view of obtaining enough land for 4 courts & a Pavilion from Council land set aside for sporting purposes.

The Telopea site was valuated by the estate agents at $35,000 which was set as the sale price by the committee. It was later sold to Mr A. Young for $33,000 on 8/9/75, this with the bank balance allowed the club to pay the commission and the council rates that had accrued and still have $31,000 to start building the new courts.

Jack Gordon was contracted to move and compact the soil at $2 a cubic meter, and although there was a strong push for concrete courts it was finally decided to leave it as clay courts which would allow them to consolidate and stabilize. Tenders were called for the fencing but only one was received which was accepted at $4,500. Plans were drawn up for a 45ft by 25ft pavilion, this remained the same but trimmings had to be reduced to save the club from going too far into debt.

This was the lead up to Veteran Tennis, a man had to be employed the first 2 years as the courts were still clay and had to be smudged regular. The courts 1-2-3 were all laid in August 1984 while 4-5 were laid 12 months later and 7-8 in


Merimbula Veteran Tennis 1980

This started at a working bee when the local information centre was being built. Jack Cunningham & Alan Young were discussing the low occupancy rates that always occurred in this area during October. Jack the then owner of “Sandpiper” flats felt there could be some attraction to the district. This resulted in Jack going to the Merimbula Area Promotions (M.A.P.) where a motion was put on the books stating that this proposal of a Veteran tournament be taken to the Merimbula tennis Club, and Victorian Veteran tennis Association for further discussion.

The response from Victoria showed they would support the tournament but there were delays in the discussions between M.A.P. & the tennis club from Feb. until July when it was decided it was too late to run it properly in Oct. that year. In August 1981 Keith McColl made application to the Tennis club for the use of their courts as he was running a sporting carnival from Boxing day till New Years day in which there would be tennis tournament which included 3 Veteran events.

In May 1982 it was decided to hold a Veteran Tournament commencing on Monday 9th Oct. The tennis club would run the tournament, while M.A.P. would supply the sponsors and social side as well as giving $1,000 to cover the cost of trophies & balls. There were 20 events with trophies valued at $550 while balls cost $360. The results were to be sent to the Canberra Times & the Daily Telegraph. There were 55 players from Victoria Sydney and other areas attended, which must have been very pleasing to the M.A.P. people as at their November 1982 meeting they asked for the 1983 tournament program to be drawn up by December and allocated $600 towards publicity for the following year. There were no complete records available so the only players I know of are those that showed up as winners or runners up. The only one mentioned in the 1982 results that is still playing in this years tournament is Dan Gowing who was runner up 3 times in 1982.

For 1983 the advertising must have paid off as there were 135 Players attended, from Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra as well as the courtry areas in those states. This was the start of the Sunday social to start the tournament.

Once again I must impress I can only name players who were winners or r/up. These names showed in 1983 Bob & Denise Riddle, Alison & Arthur Ide, Vic & Nancy Clegg, Norma Dawson, Pearl Hore, Pat Ubrihien, Doug Hort, Eileen Mitchell, Eric Smith, Russ Young. This was the start of Round Robin event in the Doubles as well as the Social was held for the first time at the Hillcrest Motel.

1984 saw a slight increase to 140 players, with the 40+ playing 3 tie-breakers & 50+ playing best of 19 games. This was the first for the raffle when Slazengers donated a racquet & the Commonwealth Bank a major sponsor donated caps & flags to be give to players. This was also a first for the banners to be displayed on the fence by our sponsors. New players that are still with our tournament were Ray & Wilma Fitzgerald & Ron DeCosta.

1985 was a very disappointing year in all ways, firstly the entries were down to 115 players. This was the first year the computer was tested & as with all new things there are teething problems, eventually when the listing did come out they didn’t have where the matches were to be played, as it turned out rain set in for the whole 3 days causing the whole tournament to be cancelled.

1986 saw a return of interest when 150 players entered while there were trophies to the value of $1,000. The Commonwealth Bank wanted the tournament to be called the Commonwealth Bank Veteran Tennis Tournament, this was rejected as being disloyal to our other sponsors. The social became a dinner-dance and shifted to the Pambula Beach Bowling Club on a Wednesday night. Names to appear were Lyn & Bill Wayte, Kay Schevianato, Adrian Alle, John DeCosta.

Up until 1987 the Hillcrest had catered for the Sunday social but we catered ourselves this year, it saw the introduction of the $1 levy to support Australian Veteran team going abroad. This year saw the appearance of Astri Hobson, Marg Harrigan, Marg Wayte, Clare Smith, Myrtle Boate, John Rheinberger.

1988 there were 155 players playing in 20 events, we lost Commonwealth Bank as a major sponsor when it became the Australian Veterans sponsor. Social golf was introduced for those not playing in the finals, this was in the form of an Ambrose. This year saw the appearance of Kel Kable, Barb Lancaster, Pet & Brian Hoystead, Peter & Judy Purdy, Pat & Don Ginns, Alison Barwick, Peter Cannon, on the place getters list.

In 1989 the entries were down to 142 players, the Commonwealth Bank gave $50 trophies to the 40+ ladies & gents singles winners, and vouchers were used for the first time. It was also this year that Dot Gains nominated our tournament for Australian ranking points for the Fred Perry World Rankings.

1990 was a very eventful year entries had jumped to 192 it was the first time we used Penn balls, they donated the racquet for the raffle, while second prize was tennis apparel donated by Cheryl & Don Wakefield, and a week-end at Mandeni, to cover a controversy during the drawing of the raffle a second racquet was purchased. The unfinished events were decided by a toss of the coin, & Russ Young fell and broke his arm while playing.

In 1991 we had 180 players in 28 events, Social golf was played at Tura Beach, the raffle prizes were the same as last year, & novelty tennis was tried on the Friday while the dinner-dance was held in the R.S.L. auditorium. This was the year of the “Pig on the Spit”, there was an error in the judgement of cooking time this meant everyone was starving the time the pig arrived while it cost our committee far more than expected in keeping up the supply of free grog.

1992 was the first time a Committee was formed, it was the end of an era when Keith McColl, Caroline Marshall & Val Currie retired, this meant the phasing out of the computer. The program was extended to 34 events with 205 players. Jack Cunningham became our President; Kev Winbank Secretary; Lesley Smith Treasurer; Kel Kable co-ordinator; Pat Brown Catering; Corker Brown publicity; while Lyn Richards, Alan Gale, Ronald Craike & Trevor made up the committee. Bill Watson was over from N.S. and thought that some members of their newly formed Vets Club could be interested in coming over in 1993. It was decided to have the dinner-dance at the Bowling Club at Merimbula. A lot of extra courts has to be used to cover the added events allowing us to play Mixed on Monday, Mens & Ladies Doubles Tuesday & Combined events Wed.

In 1993 we incorporated several suggestions put to us from the previous year, while other suggestions were not pratical for us. There were 206 entries in 34 events, Corker took over as co-ordinator following the resignation of Kel Kable, while Roland Ackroyd joined our committee.

1994 Corker took over as Pres when Jack wished to retire, while the other officers remained the same we had to borrow private courts when our entries reached 218 players in 36 events.  We were saddened by the death of Lyn Richards in a plane crash at Lithgow. The profit from the previous tournaments was used to erect a Gazebo for courts 6-7 this cost $5948. At tournament time our committee looked like a battered footie team Kev Winbank (hip), Robin Munn (heart), Trevor Smith (Shoulder) Helen Haining (thigh muscles), but we got there.

1995 we will have the same amount of players in 35 events and nearly as many injuries, Helen Haining is our new Secretary. This is the first tournament after the tornado, this lifted the surface off courts 2 to 5 as well as damaging the fences, as the same time it took the room off the club-house landing the bulk of it in Alex Brown’s front lawn.

To have this tournament grow to its present size a lot of credit must go to the early organizers who with the sponsors have made it grow to this size. I am privileged to congratulate these people, and without picking out individuals a special mention must be made to Sapphire Valley Caravan Park who have been a major sponsor for the whole 14 years.

It will always be a shame that complete records were not kept, but that in the past, I hope this has been enlightening to a lot of you, and may recall things from the past. It is a pity I only had the result names to go on as for when people first came, but I know you will accept it in the manner it is written.

On Behalf of our committee I wish you all success during the week and trust you will make our first year visitors welcome to the friendly feeling of the tournament, that has been developed by the players over the years.

Thanks once again for your entries as we hope we can run the tournament to everyone’s satisfaction.

Yours Sincerely

Corker Brown– on behalf of our Committee.


Earliest know Tennis Players at Merimbula 1908 (Courtesy of Merimbula Museum)


Merimbula Tennis Tournament 1908 Oct31

Merimbula Tennis Club 1936 Nov13