The new sporting season is about to get into full swing tomorrow night when the new summer of tennis starts at Olympic Park.
The four Division 1 clubs will face off in the opening set of the 2021-22 Mount Gambier and District Tennis Association season.
Association president Andrew van den Hurk is full of excitement for what is to come, but is concerned rain might spoil the party.
“If we can play on Friday night that would be a good start because the weather forecast does not look good,” he said.
“But Saturday does not look too bad hopefully when the other grades play.
“I think a lot of teams are pretty keen to get out there and have a hit again.
“Now we just have to hope Mount Gambier puts on decent weather for us.”
Despite a small COVID-19 scare last week, van den Hurk confirmed everything was in place for the first serve.
“Luckily we did not have any trouble with that,” he said.
“Things could change next week, but at the moment it has not affected us.”
Glencoe and Centrals/Uniting Church engaged in an almighty arm wrestle for the Division 1 title last summer.
In the end, Centrals/Uniting Church prevailed by just five games in the final and another tense battle can be expected to take place this season.
However, van den Hurk believes the wooden spooners Reidy Park will be the team to watch.
“I think it will be a much closer season than in the past,” he said.
“I think Reidy Park’s young kids have really improved over the last 12 months and will be the biggest threat for the premiership this year.
“They beat most teams towards the end of last season and just fell short of finals, but I think that might change this season.”
Last summer the minor premier also slipped in Division 2.
Glencoe Gold finished the home and away season undefeated, but could not stop West Gambier Red from charging towards the title.
Mount Gambier is the team to beat in Division 3 and will brace itself for another tough slog with Glencoe/Centrals and Mil Lel Green after a tight premiership race.
Van den Hurk said playing numbers have slightly been affected, but is hopeful of progress being built from its latest addition to the summer of tennis.
Last summer the association trialled a Fast4 social competition and it returns in 2021-22 with strong interest shown.
Six teams are ready to play in the season played every Wednesday night starting next week, while those who missed out on registration can
“Numbers are down slightly on last year by a couple of teams, but with the introduction of a social competition each week, a few players are playing that instead, so overall we are not sitting too bad,” van den Hurk said.
“We are putting some strategies in place to make sure participation increases over time.
“We have had more than enough teams for the first social competition and will open it up to new registrations when the next Fast4 season starts on January 12.
“It is a very quick format, so you are only on the court for about an hour and a half.”
With tennis being largely an individual sport with a net splitting opposing players and minimising contact, COVID-19 restrictions did not leave a big impact on the on-court activities.
Van den Hurk said he expects more of the same.
“I do not think anything will change from last season,” he said.
“On the court we normally change ends whilst maintain social distancing and tap rackets instead of shaking hands.”
The 2021-22 Lakes Junior Tennis season will also swing into gear this Saturday morning with a whopping 11 grades lined up catering for all ages.
Reidy Park and West Gambier are the teams to chase in the A boys and girls competitions respectively.
Tomorrow night both Division 1 games – Centrals/Uniting Church v West and Reidy Park v Glencoe – start at 6pm at Olympic Park.
Divisions 2 and 3 are forced to wait until Saturday afternoon following the opening of the Lakes Junior Tennis competitions at 9am.