Richmond Tennis Centre pleas for court money, Hawkesbury Council say hands are tied

A child playing on the courts at the Richmond Tennis Centre in 2014. Picture: Gene Ramirez
A child playing on the courts at the Richmond Tennis Centre in 2014. Picture: Gene Ramirez

RICHMOND Tennis Centre was denied funding to fix several courts in disrepair at the June 10 Hawkesbury Council meeting.

Council handed down its budget at the meeting, and the representatives from the tennis centre were present and pleaded their case to Council.

Gavin Yip said the centre had several courts in varying states of disrepair and wanted to upgrade them to a new style of court called plexi-cushion.

“We have two to three unplayable courts,” he said.

“They are a trip hazard. One court the surface is starting to separate from the glue underneath it.

“We had four tournaments approved last year from Tennis Australia, this year they have brought it back to one because they have concerns about the playing surface.”

Several councillors were sympathetic to their cause, notably Christine Paine.

Cr Paine asked Council if there was anything that could be included within the 2016-17 budget for the tennis courts, however, the Mayor Kim Ford shot down her suggestion, saying it would be a major change to the budget, which would require it to go back on display for the public.

The tempers of both appeared set to flare, with stern words exchanged between the two.

Cr Paine said with the impending Council elections, it could be a long time before any relief was available to the tennis centre.

“We've got 400 kids out there playing on these courts,” she said.

“How come it has got this poor and we haven't been told about it?

“These are the only major group of tennis courts that I know that we have. I don't think it is good enough that we sit here and say we will take it to a briefing session.”

One of the courts at the centre on June 16. Picture: Geoff Jones

One of the courts at the centre on June 16. Picture: Geoff Jones

However, Cr Ford shot back, saying the centre had no business plan or even an idea of how much money a court replacement would cost.

He also mentioned a recent upgrade to courts at Penrith, where the costs, Cr Ford said, ballooned well over the original quote of $450,000 for similar work.

“I would just caution councillors. The court rebuild at Penrith, the quote was $450,000 and ended up being $1.3 million,” he said.

“We haven't got a quote Councillor Paine. We've had discussions with them, i am privileged to the same information they have.

“At this stage we haven't got any firm plans, or any price, and this all resolves around Tennis Australia and what they may or may not be able to give.

“Their low interest loans are quite capable and doable, but whether the tennis association has the capacity to pay them back is another matter.”

Mr Yip said after the meeting that the low interest lows, would at best cover two courts.

He said this was a problem because Tennis Australia (TA) wanted the association to have six courts with the new surface.

He said TA would not provide benefits to the association if it did not have at least six courts with the new surface.

“We're stuck between a rock and a hard place,” he said.

“We're trying to get some help from somebody, just to go back and help us play on those courts. We want to get back to where Hawkesbury District Tennis Association should be.”

Cr Bob Porter said the meeting when the budget was voted on was the wrong time to be bringing up an item such as this for discussion, and the work should have been done much sooner.