History of the Club
Tennis was played in Yarrawonga before 1890 with games reported between Yarrawonga and neighbouring towns.
However, a copy of the first minutes show that the Yarrawonga Lawn Tennis Club was officially formed at a meeting on the 25th of May, 1989.
Mr James Reilly was in the chair and Mr J.R.Rennie was secretary.
The first two courts were situated in Athletic Park, but after a year or two it was found that the weather affected the courts so it was decided to shift the club location to Alexandra Park.
The courts occupied some of the area where the southern irrigation channel and the railway line now exit. The club was adjacent to the croquet club and bowls club.
Tennis was played on the two earth courts. An annual tournament was commenced in 1899 and has been held every year since then. As this became very popular, courts had to be used from around the town. The croquet court area next door was generously loaned and fenced for use.
Mr James Reilly
Mr John R. Rennie
By 1911, five courts were being used for the annual Easter Tournament. When the oval was prepared at Alexandra Park for use by football and cricket in 1923, ten grass courts were trailed on the oval for use at the annual Easter Tournament.
This proved such a success that six permanent grass courts were established adjacent to the oval.
This area been the core of the club ever since as the courts are on very well drained soil. This was the start of grass court tennis in Yarrawonga and the model for many nearby clubs.
A pavilion was erected in 1926 at the present Grove site. Money was raised by debentures on a promise to repay them by 1930. In fact these were paid within three years.
Players in front of the first pavilion, 1907Just before the Second World War, the club was running strongly, continually looking for more land for courts to accommodate the players.
However, because of the war, Easter tournaments had a drop in numbers. Many Clubs members had gone to serve in the war and profits from tournaments and events were given to the patriotic fund.
The club went through an era of shortage of players and funds. To boost membership, it was agreed that juniors could become members, though they were allowed play at limited times.
Tennis was so popular after the war that another six courts were built. Even then it was necessary to ring a bell every twenty minutes so the next fill of courts could take place.
By the late 1950's membership was waning and finances were low. The introduction of a junior coaching scheme and special junior play on Saturday mornings resulted in a massive increase in numbers and interest in the game.
Trophy Day 1898
The porous courts built in 1963 provided a much needed area for playing which helped the junior organizers and enabled a team to enter the wangaratta Winter Tennis Association. The courts were built with a State government grant.
The old Tennis pavilion was deteriorating after many years of frequent use, so it was decided to build a new club-house to the east of the old one. A co-operative society was formed. Members and past members were approached to take out shares on a 10% paid up basis. the support was good that the expected eight year pay back was reduced to six years. As an added bonus the removal of the old building enabled three new courts to be developed.
Flooding of the lower level courts prompted the raising of these courts by about a metre. Voluntary labour with filling provided by the Shire from street reconstruction enabled this to be accomplished. The porous courts were replaced with Plexi-Pave. The new lighting erected extended the options for tennis.
Tennis was flourishing in the 1970's and 1980's with strong ladies' competitions and club play. The annual Easter tournaments became very popular with 1400 players spread within 3,600 entries in various events. Finances improved and suggestions were being made to extend the clubhouse for functions and easier catering. A plan was submitted in 1988, but after consideration it was decided to upgrade the courts by levelling and re-grassing.
A new couch grass (Santa-Anna) was available, and this was gradually introduced over a few years. The levelling, new grass and improved drainage provided the club with very good courts that continue to attract many favourable comments. This work was able to incorporate a new area that had become available at the south-east corner and an area of 20ft wide along the east side that was formely part of the of the old Fire Brigade track. The club could now use twenty four courts.
It was decided in October 1984 to honour one of the clubs great leaders in J.R.Rennie. He had been a person involved in the history of the club for more than half a century. The clubhouse was named the J.R.Rennie Pavillion on October 14th, 1984.
Cars parked behind the courts on the oval.
The club changed its affiliation to the Victorian Country Tennis Association when it broke away from the Melbourne based Victorian Tennis Association. It was felt that the club would be better served as a country club and this put the club in the position to host Country Week Tennis for two years. Later it was felt that our top juniors would gain better recognition back with the V.T.A. where some good training options were available. In 1996, the club rejoined the V.C.T.A. and hosted the much larger Country Week in the following February, an appropriate event for our centenary year.
The size of the clubhouse was again causing concern and a move was made to extend. This took place during 1995, again with support from members. The J.R.Rennie Pavilion is now a large meeting and function room with excellent catering facilities and change rooms.
With the Centenary of the club occuring in 1997, members of the club have been able to benefit from the results of much hard work, good management and a great amount of enjoyment.