TOP SHOT: Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis, Grafton City Tennis Club coach Phil Beckman and Clarence Valley Council mayor Jim Simmons with kids at the newly renovated hardcourts.
TOP SHOT: Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis, Grafton City Tennis Club coach Phil Beckman and Clarence Valley Council mayor Jim Simmons with kids at the newly renovated hardcourts. Matthew Elkerton

Funding boost delivers grand slam courts

TENNIS: After more than three decades as a coach at the Grafton City Tennis Club, Phil Beckman has never seen the Prince St courts look as good as they do now.

And it is all thanks to the improvement of six blue hard courts which have been added to the facility.

Beckman, flanked by state MP Chris Gulaptis, Clarence Valley Council mayor Jim Simmons and representatives of Tennis Australia, officially opened the new courts in a ceremony on Monday.

The improvement to the facility comes off the back of funding grants from all three organisations totalling $25,000, which the club then matched dollar-for-dollar.

"It is fantastic to have these courts looking the way they are," Beckman said. "The blue ties them in to the other courts at the facility, and they are just beautiful and bright.

"The courts are very striking for people driving past, and hopefully they look at that and think maybe it's time to get the kids involved."

The courts are now the biggest tennis facility between Tweed Heads and Newcastle and the upgrade may provide for future tournaments.

While the club comes alive in June with the running of its North Coast Tennis Open, a Silver AMT event on the Tennis Australia calendar, Beckman says the development can provide an opportunity to host the NSW state titles.

"Now it is just a case of Tennis NSW wanting to take full advantage of our facilities," he said. "I have been here coaching for 30 years, and this is easily the best I have seen it.

"I have watched tennis around the world, and there is no doubt this is a world-class facility."

While he might have turned Beckman down for a friendly game of singles, Gulaptis was proud to announce the State Government's support in the improvements to the courts.

"Tennis has been a big part of Grafton's history for a long time, and we need to encourage young kids to continue that legacy," Gulaptis said. "I would hate to see a facility like this run down over time. We want it back to where it was in all its splendour."