Last grass courts gone in Bendigo

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Bendigo’s last remaining lawn tennis courts will soon be no longer, as council begins works to repurpose the site.

Joan Self played on Bendigo’s lawn courts for 30 years, but when she found out the midweek women’s competition was moving to hard courts, she considered not playing anymore.

“I didn’t really want to play anymore, because I find the hard courts harder on my joints.”

“Every country town has lawn courts. It’s a pride of the town.”

“And Bendigo will not have lawn courts.”

Two woman standing smiling at the camera wearing tennis sport clothing, including visors.
           Joan and Belinda played on Bendigo’s Lawn Courts for decades, before they were moved to the new tennis centre. (ABC Central Victoria: Shannon Schubert)

Belinda O’Meara grew up playing tennis on Bendigo’s lawn courts and said it was devastating to see them go.

“We should be encouraging people to play more sports, not taking away sporting facilities.”

There are fears residents who had played for decades had now stopped playing, as the competition was moved to hard courts.

“There’s a lot of elderly people that will only play on the grass and they loved it in the summer, and it’s better for the joints,” Ms O’Meara said.

“And now those people aren’t playing.”

An old rundown fence around a patch of empty grass.
                                        There are plans to build basketball courts opposite Ulumbarra Theatre and Tom Flood Sports Centre. (ABC Central Victoria: Shannon Schubert)

More green spaces

Brian Westley, director of presentation and assets with the City of Greater Bendigo, said repurposing the grass courts was part of the Rosalind Park Master Plan.

Under the plan, the courts will be turned into a ‘passive park’ or ‘green space’, with plans to build basketball courts on the site in the future.

An artistic representation of garden space
The Rosalind Park Master Plan shows the lawn will be converted into a ‘sunken garden’ with a basketball court built there. (Supplied: City of Greater Bendigo )

“The Master Plan identifies in the long term, potential hardcourt basketball courts, as well as walking tracks and more gardens,” Mr Westley said.

“We get lots of feedback from people wanting to see more walking tracks to people wanting to see more green space.”

Mr Westley said through community consultation, council found residents wanted to see more parks.

“One thing we heard really, really strongly from the community was a desire to have more green space, a desire to have more tree canopy.”

“People also want places where they feel safe, and they can do more activities.”

A brown brick building
                                               The old tennis club will be demolished as part of the council’s works to repurpose the area. (ABC Central Victoria: Shannon Schubert)

Lawn courts ‘not needed’

The City of Greater Bendigo said it’s worked closely with the Bendigo Tennis Association and determined they no longer need the courts.

“At the same time been pretty significant investment into other courts that whether it be spring galley, Eaglehawk, Ironbark, as well as the new or relatively new complex out at Nolan Street,” Mr Westley said.

Women standing on a blue tennis court.
                                                      The midweek ladies competition preferred the grass courts to the new hard courts. (ABC Central Victoria: Shannon Schubert)

The Bendigo Tennis Centre complex opened in 2017 and has 26 hard courts, four of which are up to international standards.

The centre hosts several local midweek and weekend summer competitions, as well as international tournaments, state tournaments and regional competitions throughout the year.

“We need to make sure that if assets are surplus, that we do decommission them.”

“One of the other [issues] is they are challenging to keep in top condition.”

“They require a lot of water, which is another challenge in today’s environment.”

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