A war is erupting between tennis and soccer players in Winmalee.
Max Andreotti, from Sydney Boys and Girls Football Academy, wants to revamp two of the four Winmalee Tennis Club courts with AstroTurf for six-a-side football (soccer), and has applied to Blue Mountains City Council to lease two of the courts, but the long-standing tennis club is having none of it.
Members of Winmalee Tennis Club say AstroTurf, which is longer than the synthetic grass they play on, is unsuitable for tennis.
“The club has no problem with him [Mr Andreotti] using the courts with the current surface. If he is allowed to proceed with his plan of changing the surface Winmalee will lose two tennis courts permanently,” said Winmalee Tennis Club committee member Ian Macqueen.
The club has 50 members and was established in 1974. While members admit most of the time just two of the courts are used, all four courts are utilised on Sundays and when tournaments are held. Blue Mountains Tennis Association also uses the four courts weekly, as does Winmalee High School.
The tennis club says their hours are increasing on court with the return of coach Julie Donovan, who is working on building up membership with a cardio tennis program.
Club president Brian Porter said the club would consider a multi-sport synthetic grass that accommodates tennis and other sports. “However the club is against a business taking over the centre with a sport that is not compatible to tennis.”
But members say their fences are also unsuitable for soccer. “Tennis court fences are not designed to withstand soccer balls being kicked into them by older children and adults,” said Mr Macqueen.
Mr Andreotti said there was no playing surface suitable for both tennis and soccer, because soccer required a surface that cushioned joints. He said AstroTurf was crucial for injury prevention.
He said the four courts were not getting maximum usage, and with 12 tennis courts in neighbouring Springwood, people needn’t travel far to play tennis. “There are more than enough tennis courts in the Mountains,” Mr Andreotti said.
He believes the younger generation want to play other sports, including netball and volleyball, and this is reflected in a petition he has started to resurface the courts which has attracted 165 signatures.
“This is community land and we all have a right to share it,” Mr Andreotti said.
Mr Andreotti has access to two of the courts for a trial period which ends in December, after which any future use would be considered by the elected council.
“Council staff are aware of hybrid surfaces that may be beneficial at the Winmalee courts to allow for mixed use and will investigate these surfaces over the next six months to determine their suitability for increased recreational opportunities,” a council spokeswoman said.
She said the council would meet with the tennis club and Mr Andreotti in the near future to review the trial.