Ipswich District Junior Tennis Association secretary Stan Cuthbert and vice president Bill Quirk
Anyone who has paused for a red light at the Newtown five ways has probably glanced over the nearby tennis courts at one time or another.
In doing so, chances are they caught a glimpse of Stan Cuthbert hitting a ball – he’s been playing for 57 years.
He has been on court nearly every day during this time, except for patches of forced time out – like when he broke his neck during one rather competitive match.
The club, buildings and courts at Queens Park, are looked after by a team of dedicated, tennis-loving volunteers.
The Ipswich District Junior Tennis Association was formed in 1980 to provide a pathway for junior tennis players.
These days the focus is on anyone of any age coming along and enjoying an affordable game of tennis.
“There are members playing here who have been playing with the same group of friends for the past 40 years,” Mr Cuthbert said.
Mr Cuthbert has also been coaching for over 40 years.
“Laurie Haysted was a state ranked player who has been very influential to tennis in Ipswich and he mentored me,” he said.
“He looked after all the junior players and if anyone was keen on tennis, Laurie would give them a hit.
Mr Cuthbert is following in Laurie’s footsteps, helping improve the enjoyment of tennis for the next generations.
“I have kids I coach now whose grandmother I have also coached,” he said.
The tennis centre is shaded by large fig trees, the heritage buildings are adorned with hand-painted pictures and the grounds are filled with picturesque gardens.
When Bill Quirk joined the club in 2015 he admired the beautiful plants surrounding the centre in Queens Park and decided to fix up the grounds of the tennis centre to match.
“When I first started there was lantana and the ball would get stuck in it. So I donated hundreds of plants and spent the next few years creating the gardens that are here now,” Mr Quirk said.
“It really adds to the atmosphere and fits in with the heritage of the club.”
Originally from Stanthorpe, Mr Quirk is very handy and has even invented a unique innovation in the tennis community.
He designed and built a brushing device to maintain the new synthetic grass court surface.
It is towed by a ride on mower evenly spreads the sand over the court.
“When you’re on the farm, you learn to do these things,” Mr Quirk said.
Sporting clubs play a key role in keeping the community healthy and active and it’s the people who give their time that are the secret of their success.
With over 370 members, this is especially true of the Ipswich District Junior Tennis Association.
“It is such a lovely place to play, lots of friendships are formed here. Anyone who has played here wants to come back,” Mr Cuthbert said.
The club championships in 1950. Image: Picture Ipswich
The club was first known as the Ipswich Lawn Tennis Association. It was formed on the 21st March, 1906.
After a number of years the name changed to Ipswich and District Lawn Tennis Association, then to Ipswich and West Moreton Lawn Tennis Association, and finally in the 70s became known as Ipswich District Junior Tennis Association.
Until the 1930’s fixtures and championships were played on private courts within the Ipswich area.
A deal was struck with the council and work started on the Queens Park site.
Ted Kruger was running a sawmill, Clarrie Shenton a newspaper shop and Capel Greenway struck the deal with council.
These gentleman were the driving force behind the centre being built.
There are now eight courts, four with synthetic grass. Recently all lighting has been upgraded, walkways paved and buildings restored.
The heritage-listed clubhouse is named ‘Shenton House’ after president Clarrie Shenton.
There are two memorial gates on the grounds. One is dedicated to Alderman Tom Wordford who was a long serving patron.
The other memorial gate is named for a major figure in the association and long-serving secretary Jack Routledge.
A memorial seat for Joan Simpson sits under the fig tree. Joan was instrumental in forming the Junior Tennis Association and was the first president in the 1970s.
- Senior and Junior interclub competitions on a Saturday afternoon
- Veterans tennis on Sunday afternoons
- Senior and Junior competition on Monday and Thursday nights
- Adult social doubles on Wednesday nights
- Most days social groups play
- Hot Shots tennis for kids is on Saturday mornings during school terms
The courts are also available for hire and are used in school competitions, Ipswich Open Tournament, and interclub competitions.