For some terrific tennis action, you should be courtside at the Forster Tennis Club from July 6, as the NSW Country Championships are contested. With categories for open players, juniors and families, the event promises some fun for everyone! Wendy Saville, Chair of Tennis Country, tells us more about tennis at the grassroots level in regional NSW and the Manning-Great Lakes – as well as highlighting what will happen during the championships …
Hi Wendy. What does your role at Tennis Country involve?
I am Chair of Tennis Country and work with a committee of 12 – two from each region around the state. We meet twice yearly through workshop weekends held at the Sydney International Tennis Centre, where we work with various Tennis NSW staff, ensuring that regional tennis takes advantage of everything that is on offer.
What can you tell us about Tennis Country and its aims?
Tennis Country is a sub-committee of Tennis NSW, and our primary aim is to provide grassroots tennis activities within all six regional areas. We work with regional coaches, involving them in these activities.
Tennis Country’s flagship event is the annual Country Closed Championships, providing many activities and events for the senior and junior regional players. There are Perpetual Trophies given out annually to our senior and junior players, and these trophies are named after well-known regional players such as Tony Roche, Jason Stoltenberg, the late Peter Doohan, Jan Lehane (O’Neill) and Rachel McQuillan, to name a few. All of these trophies carry a lot of history e.g. the Open Men’s Singles trophy, named after Kevin Anderson, goes back to 1962.
What are some of the events that have been held over the past year or so by Tennis Country (particularly locally) with the aim of encouraging more families/youngsters to give tennis a go?
Annually, each region runs a Junior Development Series (JDS) from February to August with four winners, male and female, from each age group through to the Tennis NSW State Finals.
This JDS is purely a participation event, encouraging the young coaching players to participate in the beginning of the Tennis NSW tournament structure by playing in round robins, and each region runs approx. 13 tournaments throughout the period. It’s a great participation and grassroots event.
Forster Tennis Club runs two of these North East series events annually.
The NSW Country Championships will be held at Forster Tennis Club from July 6th – 15th this year. These championships have been held locally a few times … what do you feel the Manning-Great Lakes has to offer in terms of tennis facilities – and indeed, other facilities for visiting players?
2018 is the second of a three year agreement between Tennis Country and Forster Tennis Club. Tennis Country has held the championships at Forster previously, as the area offers up to date court facilities, good court numbers to accommodate the number of players who participate annually in the championships, and each facility we use offers good canteen facilities as well.
The area also offers great accommodation, where a family can enjoy a holiday – if siblings don’t play tennis, then there is a lot on offer, to allow them to enjoy themselves whilst the tennis is going on.
How many players (roughly) are expected at the championships this year … and from how far and wide will they travel to compete?
We are expecting approx. 150 players to participate in the open section of the championships held from 6 – 9 July, and we are hopeful we can crack the 350+ in the junior section, which will be held from 9 – 13 July.
Entries are now open, and they are coming in at a steady pace.
Players will come from as far south as Albury, west to Broken Hill, north to Armidale, Tamworth, from as far south east as Merimbula and all areas of the north east. Our players come from across all areas of regional NSW. Many families come to Forster for a week’s break.
What format will the competition follow?
The open section of our championships allows players to participate in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. The juniors can play in four events – even age singles, doubles, odd age singles and mixed doubles.
This year we are also running a family morning – a nine and under junior can play with mum, dad, coach, sibling and play a round robin against other teams, and they are playing for restaurant vouchers.
Also, as a new initiative we will be running an eight and under orange ball event – orange balls are low compression balls, enabling the youngsters to get the ball over the net. Trophies will be on offer for this event.
What players do you feel we should we be keeping an eye on at this year’s championships?
This is a difficult one to answer; however, annually we are hopeful that the previous year’s winners will return to defend their titles in the senior events. To this end, we are definitely hopeful that last year’s Open Men’s Singles winner, Sam Fletcher, Bomaderry, and finalist, Joel Herbert, from Newcastle, and the Open Women’s Singles winner, Chloe Costelloe, Forresters Beach (Central Coast) and finalist, Grace Schumacher, Eglington (Bathurst area) will return.
Where can we find out more info about Tennis Country, upcoming comps and the NSW Country Championships?
Tennis Country has a Facebook page and an Instagram account, where we update any events that Tennis Country runs. More importantly, during the championships, both areas are updated daily.
For more info about the Forster Tennis Club’s facilities and training, visit: https://www.tennis.com.au/forstertennis/
Hero, 2017 participants of the family event.
Inset, 2017 winners and finalists of the family event.