THE Wodonga Tennis Centre looks set to become the premier hub between Sydney and Melbourne after receiving more than $1 million in funding for 10 plexi-cushion courts.
Victorian Sports Minister Hugh Delahunty yesterday announced the centre would receive $574,700 from the state government along with $343,000 from Wodonga Council and $181,000 from Tennis Australia.
Work to replace the clay courts is expected to start in December with lighting for six courts and fencing also in the pipeline.
Margaret Court Tennis Academy director Phil Shanahan said the money would open endless opportunities for the centre.
“It’s unbelievable,” Shanahan said.
“I’m totally over the moon and just can’t explain how this will change tennis in the area.
“To have 10 plexi-cushion courts here like we have at the Australian Open and to keep the facility open for 12 months is going to change tennis in the area forever.”
Bendigo and Traralgon are other major regional Victorian centres with plexi-cushion courts that are used to prepare players for the Australian Open.
Shanahan said the centre would also target several national junior events.
“Being between Melbourne and Sydney, everything is set up for a wonderful, wonderful future for the centre,” he said.
“It’s going to bring major events.
“We spoke to Matt Ebden about coming here for a charity event a while ago but he couldn’t because of the surface and preparations for the Australian Open.
“It opens those sort of opportunities for charity events as well.
“Shayne Ried and Dave Sheather in particular have put in a lot of work to get this though.”
Wodonga, which unsuccessfully applied for the funding last year, is hosting 1200 players at Victorian Country Week this week with Delahunty saying the tennis brought enormous benefits.
“Sporting facilities are important community assets,” he said.
“They not only provide a social hub, but enable regional centres like Wodonga to attract and host big events like this one (Victorian Country Week).
“Projects like these deliver the best of grassroots sport to regional Victoria and promote the government’s strategy to grow the economy, build infrastructure and contribute to the health and well-being of the state.”