Members have been playing singles matches since 18th May, ad-hearing to tennis Ireland guidelines. Club nights, will see a return to doubles events, they 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.
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 3rd July. Members may register by using our ladies and men’s WhatsApp groups.
We are planning to organise summer camps later, towards the end of July and in August, details will be posted here and on face book as soon as possible.
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. Interested potential members can see details about club membership and make the necessary payment by filling in the bank details.
Athlone Tennis Club History 2015-2020
This article, in our club history, deals with the renewed interest in a site for tennis at the Athlone Regional Sports Centre, which last held our attention from 1993 to 1996.
No More Money
Dave Costello in a letter to Andy O’ Sullivan, dated 5-2-2015, states “Our lease with Athlone GAA Club ends in 2024 and in order to be with a chance to avail of the necessary funding, to carry out the resurfacing of the four courts, we wish to enter an agreement with Athlone GAA Club, to extend the lease by a further ten years to 2034.” According to the minutes of a committee meeting dated 26th March 2015 Dave Costello reported, that he had his usual chance meeting with Andy O’ Sullivan, in the car park and was advised by him, that the tennis club, should put no more money into the facilities here, at Páirc Chiaráin, but seek a site at the Regional Sports Centre. This was a significant and unexpected jolt for club members. Andy was conveying the wishes of the Executive Committee of Athlone GAA Club.
Deed of Variation
However at the same committee meeting two options were discussed, Dave was to seek a deed of variation to the existing lease with Athlone GAA and increase it to 2034, in spite of the setback already mentioned. This was in order to be in a position to apply for substantial funding to the Sport Capital Programme 2015, to replace the all-weather playing surface on the four courts. He was also to contact Westmeath County Council and explore Andy’s suggestion of a site for the Tennis Club at the Regional Sports centre.
Pat Coyle, Property Section, Westmeath County Council
Dave Costello contacted Westmeath County Council, informing them that the tennis club, were seeking a site at the previously mentioned Centre. Within a few weeks he met Pat Coyle, Senior Official, Property Section Westmeath County Council. First they inspected the present tennis set up at Páirc Chiaráin. Afterwards they both went to the Regional Sports Centre and looked at two potential sites, on either side of the existing sports complex. Before parting Pat requested that Dave put the club’s request in writing.
Part of the requested letter reads “We are keen to move from our present location as we feel this site may not always be made available to us for the promotion of tennis in Athlone. We would like to enter negotiations with Westmeath County Council, seeking the possibility of moving to the grounds at Athlone Regional Sports Centre, and initially developing 4 all-weather floodlit courts there.”
Dave reported at the 21st May committee meeting, that at the official opening of the redeveloped Regional Sports Centre he spoke with various county councillors, seeking their support in achieving a site for Athlone Tennis Club. Councillors promised to place a motion, before a County Council meeting, seeking a site for the tennis club, at the Regional Sports Centre. In the recorded minutes by Michele Culligan, dated 13th July 2015, “Westmeath County Council had acceded to our request for one acre and the decision was to accept the proposal but to seek 1.25 acres.”
The minutes of the Secretary’s report at the 2015 November AGM read “The Council are considering best use of our remaining land in this area and will endeavour to accommodate your request for increased acreage.” Members were quite naturally excited at this news and were looking forward to having a new home for tennis. Dave Costello’s final report, before stepping down as Chairperson was very positive, “The move to a permanent home is to be welcomed, as it gives our club permanency, which our neighbouring clubs have, at a premium site, where we can develop courts and a clubhouse to last for generations.”
Meeting with Athlone GAA
Lisa Brennan and Dave Costello, Chairperson and PRO, of Athlone Tennis Club, respectively, met with Andrew O’ Rourke, Chairperson of Athlone GAA and Matt Scally, according to the minutes of June 2nd 2016. Discussion on the dead of variation, to increase the lease, was the main topic of conversation. There was no final conclusion to the discussion but all agreed to meet again.
Barry Kehoe, Director of Services, Westmeath County Council
Tennis representatives, Lisa Brennan, Dave Costello and Pat Conway, Councillor Frankie Kenna and technical adviser, Gerry Daly, met with Barry Kehoe, Director of Services, Westmeath County Council, on 30th November 2016 and presented the tennis requirements to him. We informed Barry that we planned to have an application ready to apply for funding to The Sports Capital Programme in 2017. Our aim was to build four all weather floodlit courts on the new site. Once again the requested letter, dated 12th December 2016, was dispatched to Barry Kehoe and among its contents were, “It is imperative that Athlone Tennis Club will have signed a long term lease with Westmeath County Council for the proposed site, the leasehold title to be registered with the Property Registration Authority. We will also need to have planning permission for the proposed development or an application lodged with the council for planning permission.”
In July 2017 Lisa Brennan and Dave Costello met with GAA officials and discussed increasing the lease once again. The officials agreed to have the matter discussed at a GAA committee meeting. The next meeting was scheduled for September. It was agreed that the rent, payable to the GAA, would be increased from 2016 based on the Consumer Price Index.
Further meetings with Barry Kehoe, attended by Lisa Brennan, Dave Costello, Martin O’ Rourke, Pat Conway and Gerry Daly were held in the Council’s Civic Offices. Following one of the meetings, in a letter to Barry Kehoe, dated 27th November 2017, Dave Costello wrote, “I enclose the layout for tennis courts at the proposed site, Lissywollen, beside the Regional Sports Centre. The layout includes for the provision of six courts, a clubhouse and a practice wall. This layout is not set in stone but the area, 136 by 44 yards, approximately 1.25 acres, is sufficient for the proposed development.”
Reject GAA Offer
The latest offer from the GAA, re the deed of variation, was discussed at 13th February 2018 committee meeting. According to Michele Culligan’s committee minutes, “Dave Costello proposed that we reject the GAA’s latest offer. This was seconded by Lisa Brennan and it was carried unanimously.” At the May committee meeting it was proposed to apply for funding, to The Sports Capital Programme 2019, to develop the site at The Regional Sports Centre. Gerry Daly was to be asked to draw up a plan for the proposed courts.
Peter Ormond, Westmeath Community Development
The minutes of the 24th September 2018 committee meeting state, “Lisa met Barry Kehoe and discussed Leader Funding, the Council would support this and were very keen for us to build 6 courts and a clubhouse. The grant would cover 75% of expenses.” The council also confirmed that no bill boards or porta cabin would be allowed to be built on the proposed site. The November 2018 AGM was informed that the Leader application form has been completed and has been preliminary accepted. Gerry Daly advised that the club should employ their own engineer and two contractors, one to build the courts and one to build the clubhouse. Michele Culligan recorded in the minutes “All information re the move is very positive at this time.”
Architect Robert Cummins
During the 31st January 2019 committee meeting Lisa Brennan informed the members present that she had contacted Tennis Ireland about tennis architects and that they had recommended Robert Cummins. Roisin Casey records in the minutes “Lisa proposed using the services of Robert Cummins, subject to confirming costs, and his availability. Lisa will email Robert ASAP for an update.”
At the 22nd August 2019 committee meeting Lisa reported that the notice for planning permission to be erected on the site. The November AGM was informed that planning permission had been granted and that the lease should be in the club’s name by 16th December. Dave met with Peter Ormond and showed him the plans, Peter informed him that €400,000 was the max amount on offer from Leader. The development was to be in phases, first the courts and then the clubhouse. Martin O’ Rourke proposed a meeting with Robert Cummins to clarify what exactly Phase 1 development consisted of. It was agreed to meet with Robert December 5th to discuss the expected quotes. At the meeting Robert informed the development committee that no contractor had tendered a quotation for the proposed development. It was agreed that we would seek quotations again through E-Tenders in January 2020. The club received one quotation.
Lease Approved by Westmeath County Council
Dave Costello received the following email from Pat Coyle, dated the 29th January 2020, “Council Members at Meeting of 27th January 2020, approved a 50 year lease of circa 1.45 acres at Cloghanboy, Athlone to Athlone Tennis Club, at rent of €100 per annum. Please advise me of name of the solicitor, who will represent, Athlone Tennis Club, in this matter.”
Presently solicitors for the Tennis Club and Westmeath County Council are negotiating the clauses and terms of the expected lease.
Next week’s article will deal with the history of the club from its founding in 1885 to 1970.