Club nights will resume for men Monday 29th June with the ladies having exclusive use of the courts Wednesday 2nd July. Our mixed doubles competition will re-commence Thursday 3rd with all events starting at 7.30pm. The club’s Sunday mixed doubles will also begin Sunday 6th July commencing at 11 until 1pm. These organised club events are ideal opportunities for new members and potential members to meet and play social tennis games. All members are urged to bring their own hand sanitizer and the use of the clubhouse is only to be used to access the toilets, one person in the clubhouse at any one time please.
Membership forms for existing new members can be downloaded from our web site athlonetennisclub.com with bank details included. Arrangement about providing fobs will follow for new members soon afterwards.
Ladies’ and Men’s Summer Singles Leagues
Adult members are reminded that closing date to register to participate in the summer singles leagues is Friday 10th July. Members may register by using our ladies and men’s WhatsApp groups.
Online booking will be available to all members soon, through our website and will replace the existing booking sheet. Password and rules will be posted when all is set up.
Club History Continued 1997-2015
At his first committee meeting dated 9th December 1997, Chairperson, Dave Costello reported that an application to re-fence, re surface and floodlight courts 3 and 4 had been submitted to Athlone UDC. At the same meeting Martin Curran proposed that Casey Courts be awarded the contract to carry out the work, as they were experts in tennis court construction. Jacinta Digby seconded the proposal and it was carried unanimously.
Even though we had already had an application with Athlone UDC for planning permission for courts 3 and 4, the Rugby Club’s offer was still debated at the 2nd September 1998 committee meeting. Mary O’ Neill’s written minutes are precise, concise and short. “The meeting opened with a discussion on club development. The Rugby Club V the GAA option was discussed in detail. Following same Mary Jo O’ Farrell proposed that we resurface and floodlight courts 3 and 4. This was seconded by Joe Price. The proposal was carried by a vote of ten in favour with two abstentions.”
£5,000 Courts 3 & 4 Grant
At the December 1st committee meeting 1998, Chairperson, Dave Costello announced that Casey Courts were due to start work on the proposed development in early February 1999. He also said that a grant allocation of £5,000 was being provided by the National Lottery to help defray costs. . Dave Costello informed the same meeting that an application for National lottery funding would be made early in the new-year to re-fence, resurface and floodlight courts 1 and 2, the closing date for entries was 12th February 1999.
25 Year Lease
At most committee meetings during 1998, the proposed lease with the GAA was discussed. The most contentious issue according to the minutes of the 1998 November AGM was “the omission of the notice to quit clause of six months.” At the February 2nd 1999 meeting, Dave Costello stated, that solicitor Martin Egan had studied and approved the twenty five year lease and it could now be signed. It was duly signed in April by Mary O’ Neill and Dave Costello, representing the Tennis Club and by Des Lynch and Andy O’ Sullivan on behalf of the GAA. He also said that the work on courts 3 and 4 would be completed by the end of that month.
A requirement to draw down national Lottery funding, of which the club had received an initial £5,000, was the appointment of three trustees. Cathy Walsh, Thomas Murphy and Dave Costello were nominated and elected at the 1998 AGM to act as the club’s trustees.
Official Opening Courts 3 and 4
The official opening of the refurbished courts 3 and 4 was held on 24th April 1999. An American tournament, for adult members, was organised for the afternoon on the day, that evening Mary O’ Rourke TD, performed the official opening. Pride of place was reserved for Ida Smith, the first secretary of the Tennis Club since the move to Páirc Chiaráin in 1970.
£5,000 Courts 1 & 2 Grant
At the December 7th 1999 committee Dave Costello stated “that he had received a quotation from Dan Casey for £17,000 plus VAT,” to re-develop courts 1 and 2 and by February work had commenced on removing the old fencing and walls.
By the end of March all the necessary renovation work had been completed and new tarmacadam courts had been laid. The official opening was on 6th May 2000 with a mixed doubles tournament followed by a social get together.
£15,000 All Weather Surface Grant Courts 3 & 4
The masts for floodlights were installed by Dan Casey and that October plans for floodlights were lodged with Athlone UDC. Torc Electric were awarded the contract and by May 2001 work was in progress on the new lighting system. At the same meeting Dave Costello announced that The National Lottery were providing £15,000 to defray costs linked with the all-weather grand prix surface of courts 3 and 4. In November another mixed doubles tournament, was organised for the official opening of the new grand prix surface, plus the switching on of the new floodlights, followed by the usual entertainment.
€25,000 All Weather Grant Courts 1 & 2
During the 2nd February 2002 the planned all-weather grand prix, resurfacing of courts 1 and 2 was discussed and at the April meeting Dave Costello announced that the National Lottery was providing a grant of €25,000 for that purpose. This work was completed and at that years AGM, Secretary, Anne Dooley reported “The club’s focus for the past year has been predominately on its development programme. This year’s improvements concentrated on the upgrading of all four courts to grand prix standard. In line with this expansion we saw a substantial increase in membership.”
€10,000 Dressing Rooms Grant
At the 1st April 2003 committee meeting discussion took place on clubhouse improvements to include toilets and showers. Dave Costello said that the closing date for funding to the National Lottery was 24th April. The minutes of the May 6th meeting simply state “Dave met with Andy O’ Sullivan, of the GAA, to discuss clubhouse development.”
At the 3rd August committee meeting discussed two options as suggested by Andy O’ Sullivan. The first option was to build a prefab between courts 2 and 3, the second was to develop the rooms in the Nissan Hut. Secretary Jacinta Digby’ minutes state “The committee felt that the second option would be the more viable. Dave undertook, to consult with Seamus Mc Manus a local builder, putting our needs in writing.” The September monthly meeting was informed that €10,000 was being provided, by The National Lottery, to build two dressing rooms with toilets and showers. The club offered to finance the building of a concrete wall the full length of the Nissan hut.
€10,000 Kitchen/Meeting Room Grant
A letter granting a second sum of €10,000 was received in June 2004. This grant was to refurbish the club’s meeting room and as soon as the dressing rooms were completed work began on spending the second grant. Terry Rushe was contracted to do the building work. New windows, door and curved wooden ceiling were installed, the curved wooden ceiling is outstanding and draws favourable comments from members and visitors alike. A new kitchen was also installed. Secretary Mary Breen’s annual report at the 2008 AGM reads “that the year 2007-2008 has been another very successful year for Athlone Tennis Club. The main priority during the year was the completion of the clubhouse and it now looks really well.”
In a letter to Andy O’ Sullivan dated 21/05/2008, Dave Costello wrote “Further to our conversation regarding club development, the club is at present seeking quotations, for this work. We intend to put a canopy on to the existing clubhouse. This will extend from the clubhouse to court 2 and will be in line with the existing clubhouse. It will be a steel structure with a polycarbonate roof. We intend to put a more secure fence in line with the clubhouse wall for security reasons.” The canopy was added to the clubhouse and was a very welcome addition, greatly enhancing club facilities. Many a person, enjoyed savouries and beverages, while watching and engrossed by the action on courts 1 and 2.
During the next number of years the all-weather surface on the courts needed continuous care and attention. The courts were power hosed and cleaned a number of times. This cleaning, the ware and tare from continuous use, needed urgent attention. This led to a jolt for club members in 2015.
Andy O’ Sullivan
Concluding this article, I wish to pay generous appreciation to my contact within Athlone GAA Club. Andy O’ Sullivan was that person. Even though a number of GAA Chairpersons were in charge of the GAA Club, during my seventeen years as Chairperson of the Tennis Club, I had very little contact with any of them and certainly no discussions about tennis club affairs.
Both Andy and I, enjoyed, long summer breaks, and we used meet casually in the shared GAA car park, at least once a week. Suffice to say neither of us had a development sub-committee, all discussions and decisions were made during these brief friendly meetings.
After our initial greetings Andy would inquire “How are things over there?” My reply was invariably “Fine.”
Discussion would then follow on current or future plans, from memory the greatest and longest debate, was about clubhouse development and the addition of the clubhouse canopy. Departing words from Andy was “drop me a line on that.”
What we both agreed in the yard, passed at both committee meetings soon afterwards, no ifs, no buts, just get the work done. The next article will deal with the 2015 jolt.