Seniors who regularly play on Lurnea tennis courts at Phillips Park are fighting Liverpool Council plans to replace the courts with a basketball court, exercise equipment and seating areas.
Residents who’ve played tennis there for 50-plus years are “devastated”.
Full-time tennis coach Jim Zrilic certainly is: “The community uses these courts. They’ll be in good condition for 20 years. Four years ago the council spent $100,000 restoring them! They’re immaculate and they want to demolish them? Waste of ratepayers’ money! There are only 12 courts in the area – Campbelltown has over 30. And Liverpool hasn’t plans for replacement courts. The courts have been here for 80 years! Part of Liverpool’s history! And five schools also use them.”
The oldest weekly player is 91. Another senior resident, Valerie Arthur, 74, said the courts were vital for her social welfare and health. “I’ve played here for 50 years. I use the courts for exercise and socialising. We used to play for four hours. There’s nine of us. There were 25. A lot of the older players have died or moved. Those of us left are a tennis family.”
Wolf Hanke, 79, agreed: “It’s important for us to do something to keep us going. It seems they’re anti-tennis in this area. I’ve played tennis here since I came to Australia in 1887. My wife and I play every Thursday. I’m retired and this is my weekly entertainment and exercise. I’ve had cancer so I have to look after myself.”
Dawn Chapman, 76, said: “We hope the council reverses their decision. Where was plan B for the courts? We’re happy for them to beautify it and change the toilet blocks. But we don’t want the courts to go. I brought all five of my kids here. I’ve had friends here for 50 years. It’s very sad. Tennis has done wonders for my health! I’m 76 and haven’t had any health problems.”
She’s also fighting on behalf of the school children. “Tennis gets children off the street and Jim really helps them develop discipline and social skills, like sharing.”
Liverpool Council chief executive Kiersten Fishburn said residents have to April 15 to object. “In putting together the draft masterplan for Phillips Park, the council asked residents what they wanted to see in the area,” she said.
“The council is supportive of tennis in Lurnea and elsewhere in the LGA but it is our role to ensure public land like Phillips Park is open to use by as many residents as possible.
“The council is committed to improving tennis in Liverpool and is investigating alternative locations for the courts.”