Tennis players in Gunnedah have been asked to “rally” for the game’s official Centenary Ball at the Gunnedah Rugby Club on April 1.

It is 100 years since the formation of the Gunnedah District Tennis Association, which established its headquarters at Wolseley Park and elected its first executive in 1923.

Tennis came to Australia in the mid-1870s. A young English schoolteacher, Reginald Heber Roe, brought with him a lawn tennis kit (sphairistike) when he took up an appointment as headmaster of Brisbane Grammar School in August 1876.

One of his first moves was to build a tennis court at the school and introduce the new game to the students. 

The game went ahead in leaps and bounds after World War I, becoming Gunnedah’s biggest participant sport, with as many as 400 playing each week in the 1930s. The installation of lights at Wolseley Park in 1925 had allowed tennis to become a year-round sporting activity.

Gunnedah has since established its reputation as one of the strongest tennis centres in NSW, a tradition that has continued through to 2023, and club officials are hoping that long-time tennis players and modern-day competitors will “rally” for the centenary event.

Gunnedah’s first tennis club was formed in 1903, its courts located in the police paddock beside the School of Arts in Elgin Street but the game had been played as far back as the 1890s when the town’s first two public courts were built in Kitchener Park. Tennis was also being played at St Mary’s College as far back as 1897 and there were courts on the eastern area of the showground complex.

As the game grew, the Gunnedah association was formed in 1923 to organise regular year-round competition play. 

The game grew rapidly in popularity and within 10 years there were courts all over town and on almost every property in the district.

• Tickets for the Centenary Ball and further information are available via email [email protected] until March 25 and the club hopes to secure a high-profile tennis identity as official guest for the evening.

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