Club History

 

Tennis in Roma had its very humble beginnings last century, in the 1920’s, on the same site as the present Roma & District Tennis Club Inc. Six antbed courts (today courts 1 – 6), adjoined by 2 croquet courts on the site of the present Maranoa Kindergarten, were laid on the Arthur Street site in the post-World War I years, followed by the establishment of a small clubhouse and lighting for one of the courts. The game enjoyed a great surge of popularity throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s; talented local players included Edward Russell of “Duarrin”, Roma, Bay Martin of Mt.Abundance, and Edna “Bunny” Way of Roma. Other distinguished players to grace the courts over the next few decades included David Ferrier, Fred Timbury, Mrs Harden, Mrs W. Bassett, Phil Alexander, Mollie Grant, Fran Schofield, Ruth Drabsch, Mona and Henry Russell, Merv Jackson, Frank Hardcastle, Betty Lalor(nee Bassett), Joan Poole (nee Ferrier), Faye Maiden, and Joan Underwood. In more recent times, well-known players included Johnstone Russell, John Russell, Jennifer (Topsy) Schier (nee Hewitt), Max Collins, John Goggin, Lynda Keegan (nee Hewitt), Merv Harris.

One of the highlights of the tennis year in this era was the Maranoa Tennis Open Championships, consisting of Men’s and Ladies’ Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles. The Club would fly out Brisbane players such as Jack Arkinstall and BrianStrophfeldt to participate; other famous names included Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad, Rod Laver, Barry Mackay (USA), Alex Olmedo (USA), Pancho Gonzales, Gar Moon, Duncan Thompson, Arthur Little, Roy Emerson and Ian Arye. One memorable exhibition match of the 1930’s saw local players Roy Carlisle and Jim Robinson pit their skills against professionals Gar Moon and Duncan Thompson. Tennis enthusiasts flocked to the tennis courts to view these exhibition matches and tournaments – to this end, a grandstand was built beside Courts 5 and 6, providing good seating for spectators for many years.

Besides the Roma Lawn Tennis Association (on site of Courts 3, 4, 5 and 6), several other tennis clubs grew within the town to service the popularity of this sport – Arcadians (on site of present Courts 1 and 2, with a small clubhouse), Railways, Church of England, Oxford and Catholic Clubs all enjoyed healthy memberships over the years while outlying centres such as Hodgson, Orallo, Horseshoe Lagoon, Muckadilla, Injune and Bymount boasted strong numbers. Interclub matches in the early 1900’s saw trucks ferry teams to the different venues. Representative teams from Roma travelled as far afield as Charleville, Mitchell, Chinchilla, Dalby and Miles for competition. These excursions were often organized in conjunction with football outings – when local footballers chartered an excursion train to Dalby, for instance, a Roma tennis team would travel on the same train, leaving Roma at noon on a Saturday, arrive at their destination on Saturday night, play tennis all day Sunday, after which they would board the train back to Roma, returning in the early hours of Monday morning.