The Merriwa Tennis Club is feeling pretty ace.
The club was on the verge of shutting it's doors forever after failing to get any funding grants to upgrade their facilities. Dwindling membership and the worsening drought conditions also contributed to them being on the brink of collapse.
Incumbent New England MP Barnaby Joyce, announced the club would receive funding for major upgrades as part of a $738,000 investment to Upper Hunter Shire Council under the Coalition Government’s Drought Communities Program.
Merriwa club president, Jason Bear, said the existing court surface was near unplayable with large cracks which challenged even the town’s best in the game.
“It looks like a fifth-day WACA wicket,” Jason said, referring to the notorious Perth cricket venue.
“We’ve been in drought for a long time and as in any small town, sport is very important and without this funding, this tennis club would have had to close due to the state of the surface and lack of interest. But because of the upgrade, interest has increased tenfold,” he added.
The $122,000 facelift includes resurfacing of four courts with a new synthetic surface and re-purposing of the two back courts into multi-use tennis courts which will accommodate basketball, netball and futsal codes as well.
Upper Hunter Shire Mayor Wayne Bedggood said the fact they were finally successful in a funding grant proves you should never give up.
"The Tennis Club was becoming rather exasperated with the whole process, and we'd been knocked back I think on four or five occasions with applications so they were becoming somewhat depressed that they were never going to get their courts fixed up,"
"The message here is don't give up, rejection is just part of the process which is a little bit sad I know but that's just how it works."
“Rural and regional towns have long, proud traditions with sport and Merriwa is no different,” New England MP Barnaby Joyce said.
“For many people off the land, local sport provides that social connection and rare down time in between long working hours to keep properties going during this drought."
“The delivery of more local infrastructure such as this is all helping to provide a better standard of living for you and your family here in the New England,” Mr Joyce added."
Image credit: New England MP Barnaby Joyce