By David Kavanagh | posted on June 27, 2019
TENNIS venues throughout the lower Great Southern last week became the first regional facilities to be audited as part of a statewide assessment conducted by Tennis West.
Representatives from the state’s governing tennis body visited a total of 12 venues in Albany, Tingledale, Napier and elsewhere in the region on Monday and Tuesday, before moving onto another 14 facilities in the Mid West.
Tennis West Places to Play Manager Graeme Hall said the aim was to gather information about the condition of all available tennis facilities and that the audits in Western Australia were being conducted alongside similar assessments across the country.
“The idea is that we will be able to produce, in the long term, what we call a State of Play report and we can do that by local authority or by region or even by club,” he explained.
“At this stage we’re just putting it all together … so we’ll be able to draw on this data for a whole range of information going forward.”
Mr Hall joined Tennis Australia’s Head of Places Steve Marquis in Albany early last week to speak at a forum about the future of tennis in the state and the Great Southern.
During his presentation, Mr Marquis outlined the “three elements” of the audit process.
He said the audits would assess the “hard, physical infrastructure” of each venue, the participation records and the operational and managerial aspects underpinning the facilities.
“It’s a very similar process to what football and cricket have done over the last couple of years as well,” Mr Hall said.
“We really received some positive feedback from the clubs we visited and the clubs are really happy to assist and provide that information.
“It’s been a really positive engagement.”
According to research conducted by Tennis West and referenced at last week’s forum, metropolitan clubs differ somewhat from regional clubs in the challenges they face.
While metropolitan clubs have cited concerns about the costs of maintaining courts, particularly grass courts, regional clubs have had to deal with transient communities and related population decline.
“I’ve been to clubs today that had 80 members but are down to four or five,” Mr Hall told the audience of around 70 attendants.
He said metro clubs also struggled to attract and retain numbers because “people are changing the way they use their disposable dollar and free time”.
Mr Marquis added that when it came to participation levels, there was a distinction to be made between tennis club member numbers and visitor numbers.
While membership numbers may be declining, more and more people are looking to play casually.
The Tennis West audit comes as the tennis clubs and tennis community in Albany debate the possibility of building a regional venue for the sport.
At the same forum, Mayor Dennis Wellington told the crowd that the venue would not be built without club and community support (‘Tennis hub needs support,’ 20 June).
City of Albany Acting Executive Director of Community Services Nathan Watson said the audit “will add value to the current feasibility study [for the venue] and any future business case developments”.