23 February 2024

Tennis hub advances with first milestone reached in development of international standard courts

| Kellie O'Brien
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Stuart O'Shannessy tennis

Stuart O’Shannessy overlooking the first foundations laid for the new tennis courts. Photo: Kellie O’Brien.

Foundations have been laid for the first two international standard courts at the Beaton Park Tennis complex, marking a significant milestone in the redevelopment of Beaton Park.

Complete Tennis managing director Stuart O’Shannessy said construction began in June and would later this year see the opening of a world-class tennis centre as part of the first stage of the Beaton Park master plan.

Stuart said the redevelopment into a regional tennis hub would include 14 new courts, including eight International Tennis Federation-standard acrylic hard courts, two community acrylic hard courts, and four synthetic grass community courts.

He said it was the first facility to undergo upgrades as part of a master plan to redevelop the entire Beaton Park sporting precinct.

“They did a huge concrete pour last week,” he said.

“They’ve laid the concrete for the first two courts. It’s a really big milestone.

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“Up until now, it’s all been preparation, because they had to take out massive concrete slabs and all of the old infrastructure and so there was a lot of preparation involved.”

The courts laid so far were the two main show courts, which will allow professional tennis tournaments to be played at the centre and attract international Challenger-level events, something they haven’t been able to achieve to this point.

“The outside of a show court is much larger than a normal court, so that’s a championship court,” he said.

“It means we’ll be able to bring in professional level players.

“They’ll have stands beside the two show courts where, when there’s big tournaments, people can come and sit and watch, so it will be a lot more spectator friendly.”

Beaton Park Tennis Centre

The first two of 14 new tennis courts at Beaton Park. Photo: Kellie O’Brien.

Stuart said with the original courts laid in the 1960s, the multi-million dollar upgrade would include the courts and ancillary facilities such as shade structures, spectator seating, new floodlighting and pathways.

“(Wollongong City) Council realised a couple of years ago that everything needed replacing, whether it’s the Snake Pit or the leisure centre,” he said.

The tennis project involved all levels of government, with funding provided by federal, state and local governments, as well as from Tennis NSW.

“Tennis Australia’s been desperate to have a regional tennis hub where they can play professional tournaments,” he said.

“Because of our aging facility, there are certain parameters you’ve got to have as in court size and other aspects, and we just didn’t qualify for that.”

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With often three generations of a family playing at the courts, Stuart said it would have a great impact on not only developing the next generation of stars but also increase the number of social players.

“We just hope it’ll be a boost for a lot more people to come and try tennis in a modern, state-of-the-art facility instead of an aging one,” he said.

“Even just aesthetically, it’ll look terrific and a real eye-catcher for people driving past.”

Stuart, who played college tennis in the US and was a former national junior champion, is operating his business on six of the courts temporarily until works are completed.

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