My MPTA Story - Gary Lindsay
1) Where did you grow up and what are some of your earliest tennis memories?
I grew up in Kingston. I began playing junior tennis in the local Mt Prospect Country Tennis Association. We played on courts local around the district. I can remember playing on the Morrish concrete tennis court.
We met at the local Kingston Shop, being picked up by Kerry Leishman. There were five of us in the car along with Kerry and two toddlers, the other player getting there under their own way. Later moving into Creswick and playing on the grass.
2) What are some of your accomplishments as a player that you are most proud of?
Winning U16 premiership and other premierships. There were three over the years in Section 1. I played Country week for many years and was successful in two C grade and one B grade premiership in Ballarat Country week. And later playing tin the VCTA Country week.
I was part of one of the first mens teams to participate and win a flag. Four of the years in the Ballarat Country week my wife attended as she was often 9 months pregnant at that time in February when Country week was held, so I had a driver.
3) Who was your toughest opponent over the years?
No individual opponents but as a team Lawrence, Ascot, Dean and other Kingston sides were all formidable teams. There were often 2 or 3 Kingston sides in one grade. We fought some great battles over the years. The formidable teams in Country week were Buninyong and Bannockburn.
4) Who are some of the best male and female players you have seen in your time with MPTA?
Jan Hives (mother of Zoe)
5) What can you tell us about your involvement with Country Week and in particular the sole Mt Prospect A Grade victory?
I was a selector for a few years for Ballarat Country week. The highlight being our only A grade championship. We were runners up in A grade many, many, many times.
The year we were successful we had two A grade sides, so there were tough decisions to be made. We had to pick the side that would work well enough together to win not necessarily the best players but the best combinations.
There was a lot of coercion to convince Kellie Swift to become part of the team. It was the last year Ballarat held the Country week competition and was entirely held at Mt Prospect complex. Bill Cosgrave was there through all my years as a Country week participant and there were many celebratory evenings down at the now no longer there British Hotel.
6) Tell us about the connection to MPTA with other members of your family.
My parents both played, my Mother was committee member and secretary for 12 years. Both my brothers played juniors and seniors. My wife came and played here in 1980 and is still trying to play today. We have had all our six children play juniors and seniors over the years.
In the early days we were here from 8am until nearly 8am the next day. It is now lovely to see two of my grandchildren participating in Hot Shots here at Mt Prospect. So that is four generations since 1967, when the grass courts were first built in Creswick.
7) Who are some of the people during your time that have had the biggest impact on the wellbeing of MPTA?
Bill Cosgrave - President for many years. I think he had the biggest influence on the association. He had a huge passion for both the complex and the association. I have spent many hours on Friday nights at the courts with Bill. He instilled a great love of the place in me.
David McKay – taking over from Bill as President, he had his own spin on the Association and worked very hard along with running the canteen at the same time. He took the Committee into a new era, looking to the future, which is a big part of how this place has evolved.
Mick Kennedy – stepped in as President when we were in the midst of the drought and faced losing the grass courts. Mick enabled the lake clean out and installation of tanks and irrigation pipes from the lake (by Porter Plant).
Peter Morrish – for his dedication, hard work, always willing to help in any way shape or form. He always volunteers his time when I need a hand with the courts.
8) What are some of the achievements you are most proud of during your time as President and on the committee?
I started on the Committee in 1986 and was bar manager for 14 years. Along with Louise we have been doing the court allocations since 1999. Back in those early days there were 48 teams and rotations were required on the granite sand courts much to everyone’s displeasure.
I took over as President at a turbulent time and am glad that I was able to help at this difficult time to rejuvenate the Committee again. A highlight was being able to work with James Maher and a group of good people.
9) Describe the honour of being awarded life membership of MPTA.
It was a huge honour to be awarded a Life Membership. I have always loved this place and what it has grown into. You don’t look for recognition but it was a very proud moment to be awarded this, as well as my Mum, Joan Lindsay being a life member.
10) How much work goes into preparing the courts each week?
There would be 10 to 12 hours a week put into the complex, over 350 hrs per year. I always call in each day just to check things over. The courts are lined once a week, mowed two to three times a week, less in winter.
There is spraying, fertilising and watering as required. Outside the courts maintenance, mowing as well as putting out and pulling in bins weekly. Repairing nets, net posts etc. A lot of hand watering when required.
11) Can you outline some of the work done on the courts in recent years to improve the way they play.
It is always a work in progress. I constantly try new techniques, including wetting agents to improve drainage. Rolling courts to keep them firm without compacting the ground too much, sod cutting when players leave behind divots.
There are always new things to learn and different ways to deal with varying weather conditions and pests that appear throughout different times of the year.
One of these are birds that chase grubs under the surface and as such damage the grass, these can be quite invasive as you can see in the photo how deep they dig. Another challenge is the drainage of water from the courts, as seen in the photo they become quite waterlogged. The wetting agents do seem to help with this problem.
12) What do you see as the next priorities in terms of the complex and its ongoing improvement?
I know the Committee are looking at purchasing new mowers, which are a vital part of maintaining our courts.
13) What do you think makes Mt Prospect such a great place to play tennis?
The fact that we have the picturesque surrounds as well as the wonderful courts, 16 grass and 13 all weather, along with all being able to play at the one place makes it a great place. I have a great love for this place and hope that all users of the complex appreciate the work done by the Committee over the years.
14) What advice do you have for the junior boys and girls starting their tennis careers at MPTA?
I would encourage anyone to participate in the Hotshots programme. This is a new innovation for the association that was not available when I was a kid. And maybe some of the aspiring players would benefit from some specialised coaching, which is now available. It would be great to find the next Ash Barty or Alex De Minaur from our local community.