Bendigo’s last remaining lawn tennis courts will soon be no longer, as council begins works to repurpose the site.
- Works to remove fencing and rip up the grass will start in the next few weeks
- Local tennis players fear getting rid of the grass courts will see Bendigo lose players and tournaments
- The space will be turned into a park, with plans to eventually build basketball courts
The City of Greater Bendigo said it would begin removing the fencing, reshaping the slopes and ripping up the grass at the old Bendigo Lawn Courts on Barnard Street, within the next few weeks.
Joan Self played on Bendigo’s lawn courts for 30 years, but when she found out the midweek women’s competition was moving to hard courts, she considered not playing anymore.
“I didn’t really want to play anymore, because I find the hard courts harder on my joints.”
“Every country town has lawn courts. It’s a pride of the town.”
“And Bendigo will not have lawn courts.”
Belinda O’Meara grew up playing tennis on Bendigo’s lawn courts and said it was devastating to see them go.
“We should be encouraging people to play more sports, not taking away sporting facilities.”
There are fears residents who had played for decades had now stopped playing, as the competition was moved to hard courts.
“There’s a lot of elderly people that will only play on the grass and they loved it in the summer, and it’s better for the joints,” Ms O’Meara said.
“And now those people aren’t playing.”
More green spaces
Brian Westley, director of presentation and assets with the City of Greater Bendigo, said repurposing the grass courts was part of the Rosalind Park Master Plan.
Under the plan, the courts will be turned into a ‘passive park’ or ‘green space’, with plans to build basketball courts on the site in the future.
“The Master Plan identifies in the long term, potential hardcourt basketball courts, as well as walking tracks and more gardens,” Mr Westley said.
“We get lots of feedback from people wanting to see more walking tracks to people wanting to see more green space.”
Mr Westley said through community consultation, council found residents wanted to see more parks.
“One thing we heard really, really strongly from the community was a desire to have more green space, a desire to have more tree canopy.”
“People also want places where they feel safe, and they can do more activities.”
Lawn courts ‘not needed’
The City of Greater Bendigo said it’s worked closely with the Bendigo Tennis Association and determined they no longer need the courts.
“At the same time been pretty significant investment into other courts that whether it be spring galley, Eaglehawk, Ironbark, as well as the new or relatively new complex out at Nolan Street,” Mr Westley said.
The Bendigo Tennis Center complex opened in 2017 and has 26 hard courts, four of which are up to international standards.
The center hosts several local midweek and weekend summer competitions, as well as international tournaments, state tournaments and regional competitions throughout the year.
“We need to make sure that if assets are surplus, that we do decommission them.”
“One of the other [issues] is they are challenging to keep in top condition.”
“They require a lot of water, which is another challenge in today’s environment.”
Fears older players will leave the sport
Local veteran tennis players worry Country Week and Veterans Week will no longer come to Bendigo, because there are no grass courts.
“They just played Country Week up at Swan Hill and they’ve got beautiful grass courts up there,” tennis player Pauline Gordon said.
“A small country town like Swan Hill can maintain grass courts, but big city of Bendigo can’t…it just doesn’t make sense to me.”
“If they kept the grass courts, they would be used.”
After 30 years of playing midweek tennis, Joan Self will continue to play on the new hard courts, but some of her friends have left the competition.
“People come up from Kyneton, they stopped coming.”
The tennis lovers say it feels like the end of an era and they are sad to see Bendigo’s last lawn courts go.
“In the summer the lawn courts just have that lovely atmosphere, the coolness, the trees you can sit under, and it’s just a lovely facility and it’s just very sad day when they go.”
“A whole generation of younger people will never get to know how to play on grass courts.”