The growing popularity of tennis means a demand for improved facilities and rising fees for club members.
Increased numbers playing tennis is placing a burden on already overstretched facilities. To cope with the demand, Irish tennis clubs need to invest in their facilities.
There's no doubt that the emergence of stars like Björn Borg and John McEnroe has helped Irish tennis. It's expanding rapidly with 15,000 new players every year.
In response to the demand, Saint Mary's College Club in Dublin has been improving playing facilities. New all-weather tennis courts and floodlights were officially opened by Lord Mayor Alexis Fitzgerald. The development was funded by a £50,000 bank loan along with club members facing increased fees.
Michael Holohan Chairman of St Mary's Tennis Club describes the challenges they faced in convincing members that the plans for development were needed.
In Leinster alone, there are twenty-four clubs involved in development and expansion with £660,000 being spent in the past year on pavilions, courts, and lighting. All of this money had to be raised by the tennis clubs themselves. Paddy Dunne, a committee member of Greystones Tennis Club, talks about the need to develop clubs and where the finance come from. The Greystones Club has just spent £55,000.
As clubs invest to improve playing facilities tennis is becoming an all year game. However the cost of club membership fees are also increasing.
In his opening speech at Saint Mary's, Michael Holohan warned that clubs were in danger of becoming elitist.
All but the better off wouldn't be able to afford to play tennis.
In an effort to avoid this exclusivity Saint Mary's Club decided not to impose any additional levy on students or junior members. The Irish lawn Tennis Association has set up the Dublin Public Park's League to cater for the younger population of tennis players at a reduced rate. As Paddy Dunne of Greystones puts,
The juniors of today are the seniors of tomorrow.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 23 April 1982.