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The Claremont Tennis Club has served up new courts for the community.

The club of about 20 members has spent the past year raising funds to replace the concrete courts next to the Claremont Hall, and on Friday night officially opened the new synthetic all-weather surface.

Fundraising committee chairman Bruce Eggleton said it had been a major project for the club and community, at a cost of about $70,000.

“We started about a year ago . we’ve done quizzes, we’ve done bike rides around farms, auctions, cheese rolls, hot cross buns, we’ve moved a house, done calf-raising .. ”

Mr Eggleton said the club had also received financial support from the Community Trust of Mid and South Canterbury, Trust Aoraki, Tennis South Canterbury, the Timaru District Council and the Claremont Hall Society.

A number of local businesses had also supported the project, buying sign space on the fencing around the two courts.

The new courts run crossways to the old, to reduce sunstrike for players, and the space from the baseline to the back net has been increased.

Fencing around the courts was extended to accommodate that, and lights were installed.

The courts were out of commission for only about a week while the bright blue TigerTurf courts were installed.

Mr Eggleton said the courts were available for community use, not just for tennis club members.

“We’ve noticed a big increase in use already, with kids practising, and getting coached here.”

The club holds club day on Tuesdays, from about 6pm, with a barbecue afterwards.

Club patron John Wyllie and the youngest club member, 13-year-old Ryan Paul, had the honour of cutting the ribbons on each net.

Mr Wyllie said he had been associated with the tennis club for just over 70 years, and had been involved in fundraising for and building the original courts in the 1950s.

“We went to the district to see if we could raise some money – there were 33 households at that time, and we got so much; I don’t think we had a refusal.”

well, and the courts took shape. Without the technology and equipment of today, a bulldozer cleared the site, and concrete mixers, wheelbarrows and physical labour were needed to deal with the 33 tonnes of cement and shingle required.