On Saturday 28 October over 130 past, present and future tennis players gathered at the Wannamal tennis courts to celebrate 100 years of tennis in the community.
Tennis has been a constant community gathering opportunity at Wannamal; so much so, that there are now fifth-generation children hitting balls on the courts.
During the hundred years the club has hosted many adult and junior tournaments, participated in tournaments in nearby towns, has won numerous Pennant Competitions, used a variety of tennis surfaces, hosted many Wannamal Christmas Trees and rebuilt the tennis shed three times.
Over grazing platters, formal speeches, cutting of the Centenary Cake, viewing a rolling photo display, and roast beef and pork rolls, there was much reminiscing, storytelling, laughter, plus the opportunity to play some casual tennis. A very fit, young 89 year old, Ross Smith, certainly showed his agility on the court.
Conversations ranged from wooden tennis racquets to lace trimmed knickers and the weekly cleaning of white Dunlop tennis shoes, from boiling the billy in the Bow Shed to Bethwyn Graham’s famous sponge cakes, from climbing up light poles to change the globes when night tennis started to OHS inductions, from hand rolling ant nest courts to acquiring synthetic surfaces, from watering the tennis lawn every Sunday to a child proof fence around the pavilion, and how those who didn’t play tennis always ended up babysitting the children. Beryl Smith and Sheila Haeusler mentioned they started indoor bowls so they didn’t have to babysit any more. And Shayne Smith shared a story about being pushed so high on the swings that he thought he was going to rotate around the swing.
Tennis in Wannamal was first talked about In 1915 by Ted Well, however with WWI, this didn’t happen until 1923. There were tennis courts at Ellisford, Olive Hill and Cowara Hills farms. They started with two tennis courts and in 1938 added two more courts, which were made from compacted white ant mound carted from West Point farm. Joan Smith remembered Harry Cocking used to take the tennis players to tournaments on the back of his truck. He put bags of wheat on the back of the truck for the players to sit on. These enthusiastic tennis players often had to juggle dances and tennis tournaments.
Tennis coaching has always been a priority – Janet Cameron remembers Mrs Thompson, with plenty of Deep Heat and Dencorub, teaching all the kids to play tennis with wooden racquets. Raylene Kay remembers walking across the road from the Wannamal School to the tennis courts on stinking hot days to be taught tennis by Patsy Smith and Sheila Cocking. And of course Donna Cocking has coached juniors and adults all over the district for 30 years.
Having a large number of young families now part of the tennis club, there were plenty of great activities to keep the many children entertained after they had a hit of tennis. Stunning face painting, yummy fairy floss, delicious popcorn plus special kids’ party food.
Julie Taylor and Skye Smith, along with a great team of helpers coordinated this memorable day, and as said by Ross Smith, “The biggest crowd I have ever seen at tennis”.
The day would not have been possible without amazing sponsors. Huge thanks to Bendigo Bank – Bindoon, Elders Muchea, CSBP, Chittering Shire, Boekeman Machinery – Wongan Hills, Tennis WA and XL2 The Answer.