Tennis bounces back after floods
IPSWICH tennis coach Dan Swords feared the worst as he saw a sea of sludge engulf the George Alder Tennis Centre during the recent flood.
Living across the road from Ipswich’s premier tennis facility at Leichhardt, Swords felt helpless.
The raging floodwater rose through the clubhouse and over the nets, swamping the clay playing surfaces.
“From my kitchen, I could just see this river over the tennis courts,” Swords said.
However, his anguish was quickly replaced by appreciation.
Within hours of the waters receding, an army of strangers answered a radio call for help.
“It was great spirit,” Swords said, reflecting on the amazing clean-up.
“We had 60 people coming down with their spades and shovels scraping sludge off the courts for a day and a half.
“They didn’t complain. They just kept working hard and came back the next morning to finish the job.”
Swords said the tremendous volunteer effort saved the red courts from further, more serious long-term damage.
Just weeks later, the George Alder Tennis Centre is slowly returning to its former glory – recognised as one of Australia’s leading clay court venues.
While more restoration work has to be completed, Swords is delighted to be tournament director for the Queensland Junior Clay Court Championships this weekend.
“Some of the courts are playable but eventually every court will be resurfaced,” he said.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun (this weekend), giving kids some experience before the nationals.”
Due to an unexpected 300 entries, this weekend’s matches will be played on courts at Alder (Ernest St), Chermside Road (East Ipswich) and Ipswich Grammar’s modern complex at Brassall.
The three-day titles starting Saturday also launch an incredible festival of tennis, even bigger than last year’s well received month of elite competition.
Ipswich will again host the showpiece Pro Tour tournament (March 26-April 3) and Gallipolli Youth Cup ITF event (April 24-30).
Last year’s Tennis Australia-sanctioned Pro Tour tournament in Ipswich helped rising Australian player Sally Peers prepare to qualify for the US Open and make the third round.
Another Ipswich visitor Ben Mitchell went on to win the Wimbledon junior title.
This year’s festival has two new events – the national 16 clay court titles (formerly at Tennyson) and this weekend’s Queensland junior championships – one of just five platinum events in Queensland.