Upgrade will advance tennis in Otago

Tennis Otago chairman John Alexander.PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Tennis Otago chairman John Alexander.PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Tennis players are used to to-ing and fro-ing, but upgrades to their Logan Park tennis centre been a long time coming, even for them.

It would seem the Dunedin tennis community may finally be set for a win.

Tennis Otago has announced plans for a two-year, $1.7million face-lift for the ageing Logan Park Tennis Centre, which dates back to 1925.

Plans for the centre - which sits on Dunedin City Council-owned land - include construction of 16 hard courts and four synthetic grass courts for multi-sport use.

These will replace the current 22 usable courts, most of which are degraded and, most local players will tell you, not fit for purpose.

Tennis Otago chairman John Alexander said the redevelopment would be done over several stages and the first stage was now ``well on track'', following early funding commitment from the tennis community and other Otago funding agencies.

He said contractors had also been shortlisted for the work, which was scheduled to start early

next year. He said the first stage would include eight new courts, resurfacing of two further courts and upgrades to fencing and surrounding areas, with a reconfiguration of the courts to allow for a ``better spectator experience''.

A show court and lighting would be added as part of the second stage, for which funding was still required.

``The facility has been overdue for development for many years, so we are really excited about progressing our vision to the benefit of the sport throughout the southern region.''

That vision was shared with the DCC, and it was ``very supportive'', he said.

DCC group manager parks and recreation Robert West said the signing of a new lease with the tennis centre had allowed Tennis Otago to move forward with its development plan.

``Parks and recreation will soon begin work on a needs analysis regarding sports fields and greenspaces across the city. This is a complex piece of work that will provide a robust basis for strategic planning for our sports fields, including Logan Park,'' he said.

However, Mr Alexander said while it was ``eventually'' good to have some sort of clarity from the property owner, the redevelopment of ``top-class'' regional tennis centres in areas like Timaru and Ashburton had also made it more difficult for Otago to attract top-class events and players to the outdoor facility.

He said while the redevelopment team had ``taken its cue'' from several other newer centres, current plans did not include replacing the century-old pavilion.

``We've taken a longer-term view on that, but we'd be keen to see it turned into more a sports hub, of which tennis would be one.''

Mr Alexander denied that tennis was a declining sport.

``That's simply not true. Affiliated club membership is up 55% over the past two years while participation in our hot shots national initiative has more than tripled over the same period.

``Tennis also ticks the boxes as far as the appeal to females, with participation at or near par with males.''

``Without Logan Park, Dunedin doesn't have enough capacity to cater for existing junior, senior and school competitions, tournaments, team events, social tennis and holiday programmes, even with the Edgar Centre,'' he said.

The upgrades would also bring the centre into line with the Tennis New Zealand national facility strategy, with the provision of a minimum of 16 ITF approved hard courts, floodlighting and a show court with spectator seating.

Tennis New Zealand CEO Julie Paterson said the sports governing body fully supported the development plan.

``The development of Logan Park will ensure the right courts are in the right places today, get more players on to courts, support high-performance athlete development and open opportunities for hosting of world-class international events.''

University of Otago vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne said there were clear spill-down benefits for the student community.

``It will improve the recreation space, support the healthy settings approach for the campus and lift the overall standards of facilities at Logan Park,'' she said.

Former chairman of Tennis Otago Eion Edgar said the proposed new facility would fit nicely alongside the other world-class sporting facilities within the sports hub.

``It will be a fantastic community tennis centre for what is one of the fundamental sports of our community.''

Add a Comment