Over 130 people travelled to the small club, south of Wickepin, to help commemorate 90 years of playing on clay tennis courts. Toolibin Tennis Club is believed to be one of the last tennis clubs in WA, if not Australia, which still plays on locally-sourced clay.When the club was founded in 1928, it built two courts on the existing site using pick and shovel and horse and dray work. Among the families which were founding members of the club were the Hoyles, the Northwoods, the Gobles and the Lavaters. The club started off its first season with a membership of 46 – 33 senior players and 13 junior players. As club membership grew so did the number of courts with a further two courts being added in 1934 and a final two being added in 1953.
While many clubs converted their courts to hotmix or synthetic grass surfaces, Toolibin remained true to clay. In 1953, courts 1 and 2 were relaid with colas (bitumen) surfaces. However these proved unpopular and difficult to maintain and so in early 1960s they and the other four clay courts were resurfaced using white gum or salmon gum clay. These courts are still in use today and according to current club president, Andrew Borthwick, the fact that the club has continued to play on clay is “testimony to the pride and sense of ownership past and present members have in their club”.
“It is the efforts of past and present members at the countless busy bees, pennant matches and social days which have kept the club going.
The club has recently had an influx of new members who will help keep it going for another 10 years at least”.
Toolibin Tennis Club competes in the Dumbleyung –Toolibin Association pennant competition. It is a competition which formed in 1962 between the clubs of Dongolocking, Tincurrin, Dumbleyung and Toolibin. As the smaller clubs of Dongolocking and Tincurrin folded, the competition expanded to include clubs to the east. Today Toolibin players enjoy a robust pennant competition against clubs from Newdegate, Lake Grace, Tarin Rock, Kukerin, Dudinin and Dumbleyung.
Of the large crowd which gathered to mark Toolibin’s 90th anniversary, some 50 people had also come to play – keeping all six courts busy across the day.
Some hadn’t played tennis for over 40 years and the wooden racquets they brought with them, once dusted off, proved more than able to keep up with their more modern counterparts.
Along with past and present locals and neighbouring club members who played at Toolibin, visitors came from across the State and even interstate to join in the celebrations.
Toolibin’s next round of social tennis will be on Sunday, November 18 and all are welcome to come and enjoy the experience of playing tennis on clay courts.
Article by J. Sieber
and Dorothy Andrews
Pictured below and below right: Some of tennis action on the day, showing different views of the Toolibin club’s clay courts