St Monica's Tennis Club

Club History

St. Monica’s Tennis Club History – Timeline

1914   A group of young people , headed by the late Archie Regan, approached the Parish Priest Fr. F. Nelan with plans to form St. Monica’s Tennis Club.  Fr Nelan granted land on the present site for two courts.  The area required filling as a creek ran through the property.  To ensure the site was suitable, two sand courts were first constructed. After a season the filling had settled and the surface was intact.  The surface was then replaced by two asphalt courts.  A small pavilion was added together with fencing.  The total cost amounted to £235.17.10.  The courts were officially opened by Mayor Essendon, Cr Fenton.  At the end of the first financial year membership was 59 men and 52 ladies (all seniors).

1929   The Victorian Catholic Lawn Tennis Association was formed and St. Monica’s was a founding member.

1946-47   The Asphalt courts were replaced with en-tout-cas surface and Mr Eion Dillon was the Supervising Engineer.

1948   Membership had grown to the extent that there was a waiting list to join the club.  To ease the problem a third en-tout-cas court was added.  The late Sir Bernard Callaghan was the Supervising Engineer for this work.  The late Monsignor Willis was parish priest and a regular visitor to the Club; he gave his full support to the construction of the additional court.

1960   The original pavilion had provided basic shelter only.  Change rooms, showers, toilets and a kitchen were added to provide considerably improved facilities once again with the support and assistance of Monsignor Willis.

1974-75   The small grassed area on the side street of the clubhouse was obtained which provided a new entrance to the courts and a small viewing area.  Most of the old fencing was replaced with PVC chain mesh fencing and the three en-tout-cas courts were rotary hoed and re-laid.

1981   The club installed an automatic water sprinkler system which was a great success and instrumental in maintaining the high standards of the courts.  The Clubrooms were repainted internally and externally.

1983.  The front of the Clubhouse was enclosed.  This improvement allowed the Club to set up Honour Boards and hang many of the pennants the club had won over the years.

1984   The Tennis Club joined with the Parish for its Centenary celebrations.  Over 300 people passed through the Club.  It was the Tennis Club’s 70th anniversary.

1986   With the blessing of the Parish Priest Fr. John Langdon the Club was granted the large grassed area adjacent to the school playground.  As the Club had a number of young mothers playing tennis, often accompanied by their children, the area provided a secure and convenient playground for them.  The area is still used extensively and has proved to be one of our best facilities.

1998   Because of the popularity of night tennis the Club set up a working Committee to explore the possibility of installing lights.  After a lot of work lights were fitted to courts 1 and 2 in 2000.  They were an instant success and resulted in court 3 also being fitted with lights in 2001.

2002   Flushed with the success of the lights and the regrowth of membership a working committee was formed to investigate the replacement of the en-tout-cas courts which by this time were showing signs of significant wear and suffering from the drought, reported to be the worst in 60 years.

After intensive investigation a contract was let to local contractor Modgrass to install Classic Clay synthetic courts, a product developed in Australia and installed primarily at European tennis clubs.

The installation comprised installing a crushed rock foundation over the en-tout-cas courts and laser levelling to provide an extremely flat surface with little fall.  A carpet was then laid over the base and covered with Classic Clay mineral sand.  The outcome proved to be hugely successful with all the benefits of the former en-tout-cas courts but without the need to water and with a very low level of maintenance.

2003   With the commissioning of the Classic Clay courts the Club was successful in attracting the services of Riley Tennis to provide coaching services for its members.  Riley Tennis is a family run coaching business with over 20 years coaching experience and provides coaching for all age and competition levels.  Many younger members have obtained Tennis Australia rankings and gone on to pursue tennis careers.

2012   With first class playing and coaching facilities the Club was able to maintain membership at very high levels for over 12 years and has thus enjoyed a continuing healthy financial position.  In June 2012 the Club embarked on an ambitious project to replace its clubhouse with a modern brick building to complement the rest its facilities.

2013   The new clubhouse was officially opened and blessed by Fr. Peter Kenny, Parish Priest, St. Monica’s Parish, in the presence of a large crowd of past and present members, representatives of associated tennis clubs, the Moonee Valley City Council, Tennis Victoria and local tennis associations.

2017   After 16 years, the Classic Clay courts were nearing the end of their serviceable life.  The extremely long life span of the courts was due in large part to diligent maintenance.  A sub-committee was established to investigate replacement options.

2018   Following the submission of a number of quotes and a survey of members, the committee agreed in late 2018 to contract ASTE, a local contractor, to install synthetic grass courts.  Although the committee, and members, would have liked to install clay courts to replace ‘like with like’, synthetic grass was chosen because of its similar playing characteristics and significantly reduced maintenance requirements.  Terracotta coloured carpet and sand (of a similar colour to the Classic Clay courts) was selected.

During 2018, two courts were named, for the first time in the Club’s history.  Court 1 is named the Mogg Court, in recognition of the long service of Russell, past president, and Margaret, past Secretary, and Court 2 is named the Stevens Court, in recognition of the long service of past president Peter and past Secretary Margaret.  A well-attended presentation was held at the courts for Russell and Margaret, and Peter and Margaret.

2019   The new synthetic grass courts were installed in January 2019 at a total cost of $100,181, ready for the commencement of the Autumn 2019 competition season.  Installation included new base-works, as the base under the old Classic Clay courts had become too unstable over time for new carpet to be laid without remediation.

On a sad note, Russell Mogg, Club President for 20 years over two terms, died in June.

At the end of 2019, the Club is very healthy, with over 220 members, 10 junior teams and senior teams in the NSNTA, NSTA and NSLTA competitions.  The clubhouse loan is expected to be fully repaid in January 2020, and the new courts are projected to be fully repaid by early 2024.