HE’S an immortal of the game and on Saturday Ken Rosewall helped Gunnedah Tennis Club celebrate its 90th anniversary.
The eight-times grand slam singles champion was the special guest for the festivities which included the a special exhibition of tennis memorabilia, a Hot shots clinic, afternoon tea and a gala ball and auction.
The ball doubled as a fundraiser for the club.
They are hoping to resurface courts one and two at the main complex, as well as the Mornington facility.
Club president Ben Robertson was thrilled with how the weekend went.
“It all went fantastically well,” Robertson said.
“Ken spoke very well throughout the day. He just amazed me with how much energy he had and he signed anything anyone had.”
The exhibition included old photos, newspaper clippings and various items collected by local enthusiasts.
“There was some amazing stuff,” Robertson said.
One of the most notable was the warped racquet Lew Hoad played with to beat Rosewall and win Wimbledon in 1956.
The story goes that it got warped while he was driving to the courts.
It was to be the second of four occasions Rosewall was runner-up at Wimbledon with the title alluding him.
Saturday wasn’t his first visit to Gunnedah.
He played in an exhibition match in 1959 with Mervyn Rose, Tony Trabert and Pancho Segura.
It’s one of many interesting moments from the club’s history.
The club was formed in 1923 as the Gunnedah District Tennis Association, although it is acknowledged there was tennis played in the town before that.
Over the years since there’s been plenty of ups and downs.
Three times the club has suffered major damage from a flood.
At the other end of the spectrum in 1967 they hosted the NSW Hard Court titles. The significance of that is heightened by who won the championships - Tony Roche.
Roche had the year before won the French Open.
Robertson estimates to do the work they want to they’re looking at around $150,000.
“This is one attempt to try and raise some money,” he said.
While the existing synthetic grass on the two courts is still in reasonable condition, he said, the base is in need of attention.
They want to lay a proper concrete base and convert those two courts into hard courts.
It will, he said, enable them “to have on offer a couple of different surfaces”.
It was a big weekend with the club holding its junior championships on Sunday.
Shaylee Martin cleaned up in the 10 and unders, winning the singles, and teaming up with Sophie Williams to win the girls’ doubles and boys’ singles champion Logan Dries to win the mixed doubles.
Maddison Hagan did the same in the 12 and under. She took out the singles, the girls’ doubles with Stephanie Eveleigh and the mixed doubles with Nick Barnier.
Barnier won the boys’ singles, but as Dries did, missed out on the boys’ doubles with Max Campbell and Ben Northey-Baldwin winning that.
In the 10s the title went to Cooper Wilkinson and Aaron Osmond.
Other winners included Kyra Carylon in the 14 and under girls’ singles, Josh Day in the 18 and under boys’ singles and Day and Jessica Novley in the 18s mixed doubles.