Riddell courts a hit

It’s official: Declaring the courts open are (from left) Corinne Shaddock, director of Gisborne and District Community Bank, Riddells Creek Tennis Club president Fiona Walker, Cr Annette Death, deputy mayor Cr Rob Guthrie. Photo: David Walker

A sense of achievement and optimism for the future was very evident at the long-awaited opening of the three new hardcourts at Riddells Creek Tennis Club on Saturday afternoon.

Livewire tennis club president Fiona Walker described the $492,479 project as “extra special” because it had the support and funding from many partners, including all three levels of government, and was many years in the making.

Welcoming the enthusiastic gathering, and speaking on behalf of Macedon Ranges mayor Jennifer Anderson, Cr Annette Death said the shire council believes the long wait has been worth it.

“The benefits of physical activity and active recreation to a community’s social and physical health and wellbeing is well documented – and this is of particular relevance to what we have all been through over the last two years,” Cr Death said.

“Completion of this project is a continued commitment from council and other funding partners to develop fit-for-purpose and high-quality facilities for the community.”

Since 2018, the council has invested over $1.06 million in completing over $1.8 million worth of works to boost tennis across the shire.

With an air of celebration, the tennis club was pleased to host the official event and club open day.

Identified in the shire’s 2018-2028 sport and recreation strategy as a key action to meet the demand for tennis in Riddells Creek and across the shire, the high quality acrylic courts and lighting were completed in April, 2020, but COVID restrictions delayed the official opening.

With the shire providing $207,479, the other funding contributors were $100,000 each from the federal and state governments (Building Better Regions Fund and Community Sport Infrastructure Fund respectively), $30,000 from Telstra tower allocation, $20,000 from District Community Bank,$20,000 from Tennis Australia, and $15,000 from Riddells Creek Tennis Club.

Council’s director of assets and operations, Shane Waldron, and the bank’s director Corinne Shaddock, and a representative of Macedon MP, Mary-Anne Thomas (unable to be present) also addressed the gathering, with deputy mayor Rob Guthrie adding his congratulations.

Cr Death acknowledged the various levels of funding support, stating the new courts would have a far-reaching positive impact in addressing the former limited court capacity.

The club president, who is also president of Macedon District Tennis Association, commended former secretary Andrew Nicoll for his passionate work towards the project, in particular helping to secure the $100,000 federal funding through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

Ms Walker said the club was already seeing the benefits of having the new courts, with membership growing steadily, and an increase in competition players and teams.

For the first time, the club was able to host MRTA junior competition grand final matches a few weeks ago and last December it ran its first new world ranking competition.

Juniors numbers have grown with the support of the club’s coaching partner, Macedon Ranges Tennis Coaching, with lessons available two days per week.

The new courts have also allowed the club to offer different programs from Tennis Victoria, including Tennis 4 Teens and Open Court Sessions, which focus on fun and social tennis activities.

Senator David Van, who was unable to be present, wished the club all the best and stated he was pleased the project had been delivered.