Flooding takes its toll

Despite the club’s best planning, the Traralgon Tennis Association’s synthetic clay courts were severely damaged by wild flood waters last week.

Six months ago the club completed a major upgrade of its playing surfaces, including the installation of two clay and 14 plexicushion courts.

Club head coach Graham Charlton said it was “a massive shame” the courts endured such severe damage during the Gippsland floods.

“Later this week, the guys who built the courts are coming to inspect the damage,” Charlton said.

“The way it works is that there’s a mat underneath the synthetic clay surface, and it looks like the water and mud has gone through the mat.”

Charlton said the experts would have to determine whether the courts could be repaired, or would have to be rebuilt.

According to Charlton, who has coached at the club for 30 years, this was not the first time the courts had been inundated with water.

“About three or four times we’ve had water over most of the courts, so when the clay courts were built we put them on the highest position at the north-west end,” he said.

“But this time the water even hit there – when you’re on a creek and a flood plane, there’s nothing you can do about these things.”

However, Charlton said the club’s involvement with a program to clear out the creek has significantly helped the venue’s ability to withstand flooding. “The program involved taking the willows out of the creek, and cleaning it up generally,” Charlton said.

“I’ve noticed a massive difference; the creek doesn’t flood as easily because it doesn’t clog up and overflow.”

Charlton said he was also relieved the water did not make it through to the club house, which he said had happened in the 1990s.

Despite the setback to the clay courts, Charlton said competitions and coaching have returned to the normal schedule.