ON A beautifully sunny autumn day, Earlston’s new £220,000 tennis facility served up a variety of activities at its official opening.
Last Sunday’s ceremony started with a fun session for all the young players who turned out in big numbers. This was followed by demonstrations of all the different levels of tennis by some of the experienced players at the club.
Christine Windmill, president of Tennis Scotland, opened the courts with a speech that highlighted the club’s structure and programmes, emphasising the achievement of gaining the national quality status of ‘club mark’ and a ‘beacon status LTA venue’ in its own right.
This is in recognition of the club’s structure and ability to provide open, accessible and affordable tennis programmes for all levels, ages and abilities. As a beacon site, it is a shining example of what can be achieved when all parties involved in delivering community sport come together.
The project, supported by SBC and the Leadership Trust Fund as well as the LTA, was managed by the club’s small committee and was delivered by local building firm Millers.
Alan Miller, the main contractor, said: “The project has been challenging, but one which we are very proud of and today makes it all worthwhile in seeing the community out supporting the club.”
Mr Miller and local timber firm BSW Timber also contributed materials and labour to the project which the club very much appreciated.
Tennis in Earlston began with the first club at Carolside in the 1970s, with two courts on the banks of the Leader river. There are still recognisable signs of this old facility which eventually became run down.
In 1982 a sports club was formed in the town to raise funds and, in conjunction with SBC, built the original courts. These courts also became run down and the club were facing a difficult time as the only facilities available were those at the new high school. It became obvious, however, that using the school courts would make it difficult for the club to achieve the autonomy it needed to deliver the types of programmes which the LTA describe in its parks initiative, which the new facility now does with abundance.
A new era began on Sunday with the opening of a development designed and built for the new generation of all-year-round tennis and should serve as a reminder that with commitment and effort, small rural communities can achieve and execute projects which will make a difference in both delivering quality programmes for the local community and, hopefully, the next Andy Murray and or Elena Baltacha.
The club is now open for business and details of the programs can be found on their website at www.earlstontennisclub.co.uk or by contacting club coach Ali McCulloch on 07971 198 344.