MOVING junior tennis to a permanent Friday night fixture is among the potential changes the Central Wimmera Tennis Association hopes will reinvigorate the sport.
President of the association Kate-Lyn Perkin said some clubs had been trialling Friday night tennis this season and it had been well received by many involved.
“We gave clubs the option to try Friday nights and Horsham Lawn has been predominantly doing it this summer,” she said.
“The ones that have played so far have had some pretty good feedback.”
It is hoped that by moving junior tennis to Friday nights less matches will be forfeited and it will help grow junior numbers in the sport.
The thinking behind moving junior tennis to Friday nights is to ensure there are less matches being forfeited and helping keep juniors involved with tennis.
“It’s allowed for less forfeits, giving everyone the opportunity to play. Some people might have to go away for other sport or on holiday on weekends,” Ms Perkin said.
Horsham Lawn junior co-ordinator Maree Thompson said Friday night tennis has been a success from her club’s perspective.
“I have found it extremely well received from all parents at our clubs and they have been very keen to play on Friday nights,” she said.
“All but one Friday night we have had teams playing this season. A lot of people are keen for it to permanently change to Friday nights so it frees up everyone’s Saturday mornings.
“If some of the children have basketball tournaments for example on a Saturday, they can plan their tennis on a Friday night and basketball on Saturday. It works really well in that case.”
Along with moving junior tennis to Friday nights, the association is also looking at ways to increase participation in senior competitions.
Ms Perkin said making the competition more flexible as to when matches can be played is something that will be considered at this year’s general meeting.
“The conversations we have been having lately for both seniors and juniors is keeping people playing tennis and get people to come back to tennis. We need to look at when is the best time for people to playing tennis,” she said.
“Potentially for next season we are looking at some different options. We are looking at opening it up to clubs to play whenever they want as long as clubs enter their scores by a deadline. Both clubs would just have to mutually agree to play when it best suits them.
“If they all want to play on a Tuesday night because the players have a wedding on the Saturday or because of harvest or something else, then if they both agree on that then why not let them play?”
Ms Perkin also said the association would consider changing senior sets to eight games per set instead of the current nine, among other potential changes.
“One game less doesn’t sound like a lot, but across the day it would make the day just that bit shorter. People are saying the day is quite long and if they have somewhere to go on Saturday night it can be hard,” she said.
Tennis is hanging in there at the moment but it certainly isn’t growing. If we want to grow our sport we need to make a change.Maree Thompson
“We are also looking at potentially making sure each grade has a bye and getting all clubs to take advantage of our day clearances. We want clubs to utilise our day clearances more next season.
“We have trialled that this year. It has been good and we will look at putting that into the by-laws. This is more for seniors, to stop forfeits. We want everyone to still have a game for tennis.”
Ms Thompson said it was important that the tennis community looked at different ways to increase participation in tennis throughout the region, and acknowledged that for some people making these changes can be difficult.
“I think we need some sort of change,” she said.
“Tennis is hanging in there at the moment but it certainly isn’t growing. If we want to grow our sport we need to make a change. Making changes can be difficult for some people because they want to keep it the way it has always been. Sometimes you have to be brave to make a change.”
For any potential changes to be implemented, they would need to be agreed on by all clubs at the association’s general meeting, which typically takes place in April after the season finishes.
Ms Perkin encouraged anyone with feedback on Friday night tennis or with any other suggestions to email email@example.com.