Nan Cowling (former President and Lifetime member) and Vivienne Gayford (current President) have documented the history of EPTC for the Coffs Harbour Time Capsule to celebrate Coffs Harbour's 150th year.
This is the story of Engalnds Park Tennis Club....... Englands Park Tennis Club was born in 1978 when the council built new courts at the current site in Mildura Street. Prior to this there was the Jetty Tennis club. The Jetty Tennis Club had 2 courts and was one of the oldest in Coffs Harbour. It had two courts on the South Eastern corner of the current Jetty Oval. Orlando Street took a sharp dog leg around the courts between the Plywood Factory (on the block of land where apartments are now adjacent to the railway line) and the Jetty Oval. When the Council decided to straighten Orlando Street the tennis courts were removed as they were on the new alignment of Orlando Street in circa 1968. The Council had assured Jetty Tennis Club that alternative courts would be built for them to continue operating. However it took the Council almost 10 years to build the replacement courts, in the current location in Mildura Street. This long delay meant that the Jetty Tennis Club was no longer an entity as all previous members had moved on to other clubs. The Council built 4 courts on Englands Park Oval, off Mildura Street, but did not replace the clubhouse and there were no lights. These courts are the current courts 1, 2, 3 and 4. When the Council finished the courts they called tenders for their use. Finally a fellowship group from the Uniting Church of Coffs Harbour was given the use of the courts and in 1978 formed the Uniting Tennis Club. This was a social club with no teams entering into the local Coffs Harbour Tennis Association competitions. They ran the courts for approximately 12 months. With no court lights and no club house the club was not able to be involved with the night competitions the Association ran. In 1979 Dr Rainy MacDonald and Peg MacDonald (his wife), lent the club sufficient funds to build a clubhouse. Although only a basic structure, it was not updated until 2004 when a new kitchen was added to the western end. This structure remains today. When the clubhouse was completed in 1979, a new committee was formed and the Englands Park Tennis Club was born. The patron was Dr Rainy MacDonald. The Monday ladies social group was the driving force behind the club and continues as a dynamic group to this day. The club went from strength to strength once they commenced entering competition teams as this generated sufficient funds to grow and prosper. In the early 1980’s lights were installed on the two courts and later the other two courts were lit. In 1989 the committee put a proposal to the members to hand the courts to John Althammer. He was a tennis coach at the courts. He proposed to put synthetic grass surfaces on all four courts. He planned to run it as a private business, with the club hiring courts from him, for its social and competition play. This proposal was soundly defeated by a huge turnout of members and a new committee was formed. The members support was needed to re-establish the financial position of the club. The courts all had clay surfaces and these required the services of a curator. The curator in 1990 was Dick Booth. In 1991 there were changes to the entitlements for the curator, bought on by council, and these costs rose to $18,000/year. Debbie Fallon who lived next door to the courts took on caretaker duties from 1990 for six years. The new committee worked solidly to gain new members and put the club back onto a sound financial footing. In 1991 it was decided to cover the four courts with synthetic grass because of the rising costs of maintaining clay courts. Funding of $50,000, was obtained from the council, as a loan, This loan was from a community fund set up after the death of a prominent sportsman and policeman, Alan McQueen and was to be used as a means of upgrading sporting facilities in the town. The term of the loan was five years but this was repaid in four years. The club was so successful they decided to build an additional 2 synthetic grass courts to accommodate the 18 teams that were currently playing in the mixed night competition. The club was in the situation where they had to hire outside courts to accommodate this quantity of teams. With 18 teams the club had the greatest number of teams playing in the Association competition. Planning began in 1996 with Michael Secomb as club President, who helped with council liaison. The 2 courts cost over $180,000 to construct, including a $50,000 loan from council. Much of the credit for their successful completion was due to Alan Fawcett taking on the job as Project Manager. He worked solidly beside the numerous volunteers until it was completed. Other members heavily involved included Les Cowling, Morrie Deed, Alex Stevenson, Dick Booth, Murray Bingham, Eunice Fawcett, Nan Cowling, Jerry Jeske, Doug Simpson and Alex Bricknell with heavy machinery supplied and earth work done by Peter Ryan Earthmoving.
The courts were officially opened in late 2000 with a "Tennis Ball" at the courts with members and their guests dressed in Ball attire and tennis shoes in order to play tennis. Four years later the club had cleared this debt. In 2001 the club replaced the existing 8 lights on courts 1 to 4 with 12 X 1500 watt metal halide down lights. In 2003 the synthetic surfaces of courts 1 and 2 were replaced and in 2005 courts 3 and 4 were resurfaced. The club was affected by the November flood in 2009. Water entered the amenities block and the clubhouse and water damaged cupboards and the floor covering. These were replaced as soon as possible. Other Activities. E. P. Club was a great supporter of the NSW Country Week Carnival held in Sydney each January and won their first event in 1991, followed up with another win in 1995. At least one team and sometimes more were fielded from E.P. Most years they contested the finals which was a great result from a small 4 court club. The players who competed at Country Week included Nan Cowling, Sherie Broadfoot, Peggy Smith, Vivienne Gayford, Val Watts, Arvai Cordingley, Robyn Rowe, Sue Maione and Leona Wulf . E. P. also hosted the University Games. The club gained this prestigious event due to having fantastic facilities, the organizational skills and club support. There was easy, comfortable viewing at each court with covered shelters, tables and seating. Doug Simpson was the co-ordinator of the Games, in 2001 and 2003 and Ross Coomber was the co-ordinator in 2006. Doug Simpson also was the groundsman for some time and he won an EP club Volunteers Award. Also a “Super Sopa” was available from 2005, to dry the courts quickly after a shower of rain, to keep the matches on track. The catering by club volunteers was second to none and this had University sportsmen and women coming to our venue for their lunches. Also, officials were arranging to be at our club in time for lunch or morning or afternoon tea. In 1995 Kurt Grossmann donated a unique trophy to the club and it was decided to make this a perpetual trophy and it is proudly on display in a purpose built cabinet in the clubhouse. Jenny Smiles was a secretary of the club and on her death it was her wish that her timber wardrobe be used to benefit the club. Alan Fawcett built this trophy cabinet from this timber. A lot of the success of the Club is due to the tireless work of Nan and Les Cowling who have held the jobs of either president, secretary or treasurer for many years until their retirement from the club in 2009. After Les' s retirement from work in 1993 they have allocated most of their time and energies into running the club including many years of caretaking. They were active in applying for grants to maintain and improve the existing facilities. These include the new kitchen, guttering on the amenities block, the childproof fencing, playground equipment, shelter sheds, the super sopa equipment to name a few. Nan organised and ran several events at the courts including National Tennis Day, Active Australia Day, Volunteers Day and several Charity events. The club through her efforts has won several awards including Gold Award from Tennis NSW and Active Australia Status as well as Sun Smart status. The job of fielding teams for the Association competitions several times a year was left mainly to Nan and Les as they spent a lot of time looking for new members for the club and promoting Englands Park as the best club in Coffs Harbour. The courts were threatened along with Englands Park Oval and Jetty Oval when a proposal for the sale of green space crown land was tabled in 2006. Nan worked tirelessly lobbying councillors and residents, including an address to council on 15 February 2007, to defeat the proposal. After the retirement of the Cowlings it was decided members of the committee would share caretaker and maintenance duties. This has worked successfully for the last 2 years . We have had the fences around courts 1 and 2 replaced in April 2011 with the help of a grant from the Community Building Partnerships Program. We presently have a submission in with NSW Sport and Recreation Facility Grant Program for funding to resurface Courts 5 and 6. The committee hope to replace the fence around courts 3 and 4 and build a practice wall between court 3 and the amenities block in the near future. Committee members of the club. The 2011-2012 committee members are: Vivienne Gayford (President), John Doyle (Treasurer), Ross Coomber (Secretary), Chelsea Ashfield, Graham Miller, Chris Harris, Peter Dwyer, Rose Dierick and Donna Mitchell. Associated Coaches: The club has begun a relationship with Tony Polack and Allison Ross as coaches, at the courts late 2010. This opens up an opportunity for junior players to be introduced to the game and hopefully they will continue to be involved in the club, and the game, throughout their lives. Also Doug Beedie has been running classes for very young children for a number of years. Social tennis: Social tennis remains one of the main activities of the club with court use being very high. Association Tennis: Our team numbers are down but we are still active in competition tennis in both mixed and ladies events.