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Match Points

ImageTennis Sydney is a long established club with both a social scene and a competitive edge. STORY BY DAVE RANDALL (Sydney Star Observer - Issue 818 - Published 1/06/2006)

Last Thursday night’s Tennis Sydney competition extended beyond the club’s home courts at Parklands to the Illawarra Tennis Centre at Rockdale, just to have enough courts for the number of players.

This is an indication of the popularity of Tennis Sydney. By any standard it is a large club with its members playing in other tournaments as well as those of Tennis Sydney.

Ben Alfred has been president for the last few months and is proud of the way the club runs. “There are about 160 members registered this year,” Ben says, “and we want to make tennis lots of fun for people when they come along.”

The nine Parklands tennis courts are located between the rush of city life and the peace of Centennial Park. Tennis Sydney plays here all year round and on a winter’s afternoon it seems the sun perfectly balances the cooler air for those on court.

Highly skilled and energetic, laidback and social, or somewhere in between, whatever the skill levels, everyone is having fun. The club plays social tennis on Sunday afternoons and with a more competitive atmosphere on Thursday evenings. It is mostly guys enjoying the games although women are very welcome and the club would like more of them. Women play mainly with the Amazons at Haberfield but they enter the Tennis Sydney tournaments.

It isn’t all serve, volley and rushing to the net. Ben met his partner Edwin at Parklands and says love blossomed during a club tournament being held at Manly. “I had just lost a super tie break in the third set,” Edwin says, “and was very down.” Was it love at first sight? Well, they took notice of each other the first time they met and now the bond is strong enough for Edwin to say, “We can’t play tennis together any more; we argue on the court.”

Do you need to do other exercise in order to play tennis? “Should, but don’t,” Ben says.

Edwin says tennis makes exercise a pleasure. “If you love a sport, you keep playing – it’s not a chore.”

There are three grades for players, and sponsorship by the Midnight Shift helps make playing economical for everyone. The Sunday session, where play is carefully scheduled into half-hour sets so everyone gets a fair turn, costs only $15 for four hours of tennis.

The ages of the players are as varied as the skill levels. Carl is older than Ben by, oh, let’s say a year or two and plays tennis Saturdays and Sundays on most weekends. “Tennis Sydney has been going a long time,” Carl says. “A lot of people know about us and it’s a very relaxed atmosphere.”

And to prove age is no barrier Dick shows plenty of energy both on and off the court. He is older again but really enjoys his tennis. Is he the oldest person here? “No,” Dick says, “there’s Gordon who won a gold medal at the Sydney Gay Games.” Dick claimed gold with his partner at the New York Games for wins in doubles, and he likes to keep competitive.

In contrast, Hoshio is one of the many younger players. He comes from Japan where he regularly played tennis. Three years ago, new to our country, he rocked up to Tennis Sydney and found them both friendly and competitive. Hoshio is now an A grade player and enjoys both the competitive games on Thursdays and finding new friends on Sundays.

It seems everyone who can swing a racquet can find themselves a place at Tennis Sydney. As Ben says, “Just come and play and enjoy yourself.”