A Te Anau dream has come true. Five new community tennis courts have just been finished, well ahead of expectations, and they have already hosted their first competition. This is a story about positive attitude, initiative, determination and teamwork.
With less than a handful of members, the tennis club began planning and fundraising in earnest two years ago. It didn’t get off to a great start with a funding application to the Lottery Grants Board turned down last year. It became clear the project would be tough - and unlikely to eventuate for three to five years. But a decision was made to stick to the plan and push on with the project…. Even if all they could do was to get it as far as money would allow.
With faded expectations for a finished playing surface inside a reasonable timeframe, the Tennis Club members spearheading the project decided to approach the Fiordland Events Centre Trust – as it turned out, this was a good move.
Trust chairman, Mike Schuck, liked it the idea! Undeterred by the failure to win a Lottery grant he went cap in hand to local businesses and individuals to make up the shortfall. Tennis club representative Greg Sheppard said everyone was blown away when he announced recently that the last of the money needed to see the project completed, had been secured. “I don’t know how he did it,” Mr Sheppard said. “Without him and Murray Willans (the tennis club member who initiated fundraising activities and secured the first grant from the Community Trust of Southland) it wouldn’t have happened. Two years from an idea to getting her up and going is pretty quick.”
There are five tennis courts and three netball courts (although to date only two netball courts have been marked out) which have a Rebound Synpave surface. Mr Sheppard said the development meant Te Anau now boasted courts and associated facilities that were up with the best of any in Southland. Although there was not much of the tennis season remaining, the tennis club members produced a gala weekend of tennis on Saturday and Sunday March 31/ April 1.
This is an outstanding example of community teamwork in overcoming financial obstacles to achieve an ultimate goal ahead of time. Congratulations Te Anau!