Tennis court upgrade boost for city
IPSWICH'S clay court tennis complex at Leichhardt is about to undergo a major redevelopment.
The Top Tennis Academy is renewing a five-year lease with Ipswich City Council, as part of a vision to expand the region's sporting assets at the George Alder Tennis Centre.
Centre operations manager and coach Leon Glinster said a three-stage development was planned.
The current 12 clay courts will be reduced to 10, creating three new hard courts and two modified sized courts for the Hotshots junior program.
The George Alder Tennis Centre has been a clay court hub for a number of years, hosting the Ipswich Open and major state and national tournaments.
While the clay court focus will remain, Glinster is confident the facility will be better utilised having hard courts to practice and play on, especially for junior development.
Glinster said Melbourne Park was the only other major venue in Australia that has 10 clay courts.
"Having 10 clay courts still gives us enough courts to hold our major tournament events,'' he said, keen to see the added benefits for hard courts at the one venue.
"The hard court gives our kids a variety of surfaces to play on so they get to train on the clay, the hard court as well.
"Hard courts are your majority of tournaments being played around the country. There'll still be some versatility of having the clay as well.''
Glinster said Top Tennis Academy and Ipswich City Council would jointly fund the $310,000 needed for the expansion.
The hope is to have the first new courts added within 12 months. Other improvements would be made over the five year period."Because the structure is already there on the courts, it's just a matter of replacing the clay with the hard courts. You've got the existing fencing and lights, etc,'' he said.
"It's going to give not just the juniors, but seniors different options to play on, enhancing our patronage on court hire.''
Glinster said Ipswich was also negotiating for the return of the national Pro-Tour event, which was sucessfully held in the city in past years.
The centre manager started at the Leichhardt complex with the Tennis Fitness Performance Academy in 2011, before establishing his Top Tennis Academy business in 2013.
The new lease gives Top Tennis Academy security in planning.
"We can look at the future growth of not just Top Tennis Academy but tennis in Ipswich as well through our junior programs,'' he said.
"We did a feasibility and development assessment on it in conjunction with Tennis Queensland and they feel it was a good option for us to develop the centre in that style, to give us the two surfaces.''
Having the hard courts provides added advantages in challenging weather conditions.
Glinster is looking to run a Saturday competition after next month's Ipswich Open.
He's also hoping to take a group of senior players to Fiji next month, following on from last year's successful junior trip to the country.