From 1929 til now
The History of Waimairi Tennis Club
The Waimairi Tennis Club was first formed in 1929. It was started as a small club by the late Messrs Tillman and Radford and operated at the Waimairi School in Tillman Avenue for the first two years, after which it moved to its present address in Watford Street.
The land was bought from Mr. D. Beaton for an unknown sum, (thought to be about two hundred pounds) but it is noted that the final payment for the land was not made until 1946, so finance was difficult to raise then too.
The Club did not become incorporated until 1934, hence the 50th Jubilee being celebrated in 1984. The Club started with two courts and a small clubhouse costing ten pounds, which was moved to the site from the Addington Tennis Club by the late Mr. R. Banks. Two more courts were added sometime during the next ten years, and the last two were laid down in 1949.
In 1950 a special building fund was started for the new clubhouse, which was built in 1959, being officially opened in December 1959 by the Patron, the late Mr. R. Banks.
Over a period of two years, 1974-75, new cyclone fencing, requiring little maintenance, was erected around the boundaries.
During the whole time of the Club’s use of the present site, drainage difficulties had been a recurring problem, necessitating frequent up-grading of the courts to keep them in a playable condition. In 1980, after consultation with the Christchurch Drainage Board and a firm of consulting engineers, a decision was made to excavate the existing courts and start afresh with good drainage and new Road Carpet courts. Work on this commenced in April 1981 and was completed in November 1981, St. Andrews college allowing the Club members to use their courts one morning a week while our courts were out of action.
In late 1987 it was recommended that the Committee investigate the laying of six Astro Turf courts. A sub-committee was formed to carry this out with the result that the committee supported a proposal that the club install six synthetic surface courts subject to the necessary finance being found. The proposal for installation and financing was presented to members at the AGM in July 1988 and it was overwhelmingly voted that the committee go ahead. The new surface was in place within two months.
In 1992 the Development Committee submitted to the committee a proposal to buy land from the two neighbours fronting Watford Street to enable the provision of a seventh court and new clubhouse. The committee approved and with its support the proposal was presented to and approved by members at the AGM on 27th July 1992.
Land was purchased and all the necessary approvals and consents were obtained to allow construction to commence in December 1993. The new building was completed in mid-March 1994, the old clubhouse was demolished to make way for the preparation and laying of a new court in April increasing the number of courts from six to seven. The new clubhouse and court were officially opened in April 1994 as part of the 60th Jubilee celebrations of the Club.
In early 1998 courts six and seven were resurfaced with a semi-resilient hard court coating. This surface was chosen to give junior and senior competition players the opportunity to practise on the surface that they would experience when competing in interclub and tournament play. Unfortunately the choice of surface was not as successful as expected and in 2001 the decision to replace the hard court surface with synthetic grass was made and the laying completed later that year.
A major new initiative in conjunction with Canterbury Tennis was developed in 1998 to introduce to primary school children at their schools. Waimairi was allocated nearby schools with which to organize coaching programmes, starting initially with six schools and involving 500 children. The following year the programme was extended to twelve schools with the number of children involved in the programme increasing to nearly 2000. This initiative was influential in generating an increase in not only junior membership, but because of the Club’s favourable subscription packages, an increase in family and senior members.
With this potential to increase the size of the Club the Management Committee recognized the need to plan for this expansion. A sub-committee was set up in late 2000 to formulate a strategic plan for the future. As part of this planning all Club members were surveyed by questionnaire. A plan encompassing future capital and personnel requirements was formulated which included: court lighting and a volleyboard to accommodate the increased members wanting to use the courts, additional storage facilities to accommodate an increased number of coaching staff and their equipment, a website to improve our communication to our members and the human resources necessary to manage the Club in a professional way.
By 2000 Waimairi was the largest tennis club in Canterbury by membership. The success of the Clubs marketing strategies and management continued to flow through into increased membership that resulted in the Club being bestowed by NZ Tennis in 2003, status as the largest club in New Zealand by membership.
The Club launched it’s website in May 2004 and the site has been expanding to include most of the activities in which the Club is involved.
The events of September 2010 and February 2011 caused damage to courts 1-4, with liquefaction creating mounds underneath the artificial grass covering the courts.Plans to re-establish courts 5-7 in hard court were put on hold as a result and the damage to the first four courts was rectified in 2012, the liquefaction was scraped away beneath the outer covering and the covering was then relaid.
The club underwent a court redevelopment programme for 2018…by Spring 2018 four Rebound Ace Hard courts and three Tiger Turf courts were opened for play (pictured).