Mordialloc Tennis Club

History

HISTORY OF MORDIALLOC TENNIS CLUB

1909 – 1967

Mordialloc tennis club was formed in 1909 on the foreshore land, Beach Road, and two courts were declared open on September 18th, 1909 by the late Councillor, Dave White. Two asphalt courts were laid down running parallel to Beach Road. The annual joining fees at the time were Men: 10 /- and Ladies: 7/6. The best racquets were £2.2.0 and tennis balls cost 1/3 each, These were imported from England, as at that period, very few goods of any kind were made in Australia.

During the First World War (1914-1918), owing to the number of eligible members who enlisted and with a few average men and a number of ladies, these latter were able to keep the Club alive. After the conclusion of hostilities, the Club rapidly resumed its pre-war popularity and in 1923 steps were taken to approach the Council for extra land to erect another court, to run at right angles to Beach Road.

This request raised quite a stir. Two of the Mordialloc Ward Councillors were strongly opposed, and went to great lengths to try and prevent the proposed extension, despite the fact that the family of one of the Councillors were members of the Club. Fortunately, owing to the strong support of a Parkdale Councillor, (late Mr. Blanch), the Council finally agreed to the erection of another court, which was opened in 1924. With the addition of this court, the Club was able to enter teams in the Caulfield-Carrum Tennis Association which had been formed in 1922 and of which the Club was a foundation member. In 1933 the Council gave approval for the Club members to use the courts on Sundays.

During the years following, the Club prospered and owing to increased popularity of the game of tennis, the membership also increased to such an extent that the Club decided in 1936 to make a further appeal to the Council for extra land to erect more courts. A suggestion was made that the present site be vacated and a move made to Bradshaw Park, which as Council land, adjoining Nepean Highway near the Railway Bridge.

This suggestion raised more fury than the Clubs last request for extra land in 1924. A reference to the columns of the local “Mordialloc News” of that time 1936-1938 shows leading articles and letters condemning the request. During the battle, it was suggested that if new courts were to be built, it would be much cheaper to demolish the three asphalt courts on the present site and erect four new porous courts in their place. This was the period of the Depression, and Unemployed Grants were being made to local Councils to carry out local works.

The Club was fortunate, having got the ear of the local State member of Parliament (late Mr. Frank Groves), he was able to obtain an Unemployed Grant of £600 for Mordialloc which was to be used to erect new courts on their present site. From here on there was no more trouble. The Council not being responsible for cost of the project, they gave their approval, and four new porous courts and a 12’ fence surrounding them were erected. It had been a long and hard fight (2 years) and on May 29th, 1938 four new porous courts were opened by the then Mayor of Mordialloc Council (late Cr. Herbert).

The record of this fight cannot be complete without a reference to the sterling efforts, persistence and patience of three of the then Club members, Dr. Shaw, Messrs. K. Stevenson and the late B. Cohen, which in no small measure, contributed to the success of the venture.

In approving of the increased courts, the Council stipulated that –

  • A rental of £50 per annum be paid to the Council, (after the war this amount was increased to £75).
  • At least one court is made available for the public and visitors at any time, upon payment of the prescribed fees as set out by the Club.

With reference to (a), no rent had been paid in the past. Re (b) this rule had always operated since the Club was formed.

When World War 2 broke out (19391945) the Club was more affected than during the previous war. The membership was three times as large, and with the advent of the Japanese quite a large number of members enlisted. However, with the aid of a few stalwarts, the Club was able to keep going. At one annual meeting where were only seven present.

One matter that hit the Club was the supply of tennis balls. The Government clamped down, as a war measure, on their manufacture, and only enough were made to supply the troops through the canteens and camps, and none were to be sold to the public.

This meant that most tennis clubs had to close down. However, the then Treasurer of the Club (Jack Grut, Town Clerk, Mordialloc Council)had an idea that there would be a shortage of tennis balls, and had bought 16 dozen, just prior to the entry of the Japanese into the War. These the Club were able to use by rationing them, and other methods. When the balls began to lose their weight, some of the members would take them home and put them in the kitchen oven and heat them up. This increased their weight and helped to keep them playable for a longer period. The small number of members also extended the life of the balls.

During the War the Caulfield-Carrum tennis Association decided to cease their activities until Peace was declared. When the War was over and the soldiers returned, the membership started to increase, and a year later the Club had to limit the membership to 80.

Since joining the Caulfield-Carrum tennis Association the Club has nearly every year figured as winners of the A grade or lower sections of the Association matches. During one period they were successful in winning the Mens A Grade 3 years running.

The leaving of one court vacant for visitors has been of great benefit to the Clubs finances. That it was very popular is shown by the frequent use of it by the public. It was not unusual for over 500 players in a year to have played.

The Club has on occasions, acted as a mild “Marriage Bureau”. Many members have met on the courts and in due time have married, and in some cases their children have also become members.

Mention might be made of Charlie McPhate who joined the Club in 1912, and has been a member ever since. He was actively attached to the Club, playing tennis for over 50 years, during which period he occupied every position from Committee member to President.

He is now a Life member and still remains interested in the affairs of the Club as an onlooker.

W. Langley
Hon. Secretary (1967)