Club rallies to return to courts after devastating fire
THE ashes had barely cooled when the community began rallying to revive a tennis centre that was destroyed by fire on Friday morning.
The Joan Nicoll Tennis Centre in Terranora went up in flames just before 4am, and the extent of the structural damage was soon evident.
The club's president, Rob Nienhuis, said players were returning to the courts on Monday afternoon, after Tweed Shire Council arranged temporary fencing around the damaged building and two portable toilets.
He said it was a "small positive” to see lessons disturbed as little as possible.
"We don't want our coaches to lose their business,” he said.
Mr Nienhuis said the damages bill, including the building and its contents, was about $700,000, including some $100,000 worth of equipment and fixtures.
But the club's insurance is expected to cover just $400,000, and the club has launched a fundraiser to cover the shortfall.
Brendon Moore, who has been running the Moore Tennis Academy at the club for the past 12 months, lost a substantial amount of tennis gear in the blaze.
"I didn't believe it when I got the phone call Friday morning,” Mr Moore said in a statement.
"But when I drove over the hill, I saw everything had been reduced to smouldering ashes.
"There was nothing left.”
He said it was devastating to see more than 50 junior members, many of whom compete at state and national levels, put their training on hold.
"This is literally my life, and more importantly, the life of the kids, and it's all gone,” he said.
Moore has launched a GoFundMe page, titled Help Rebuild Moore Tennis Academy, while details of the Terranora Tennis Club's own fundraiser will soon be available online at tennisterranora.com.au.
Mr Nienhuis said the club planned to host a fundraising day in the near future.
The blaze, which fire crews battled for about three hours and was first spotted by a nearby resident overlooking the site, is being treated as suspicious and the cause is being investigated by police and Fire and Rescue NSW.
Tweed/Byron LAC Acting Inspector Jackie Lilley said there would be a coronial investigation.
Anyone who has information about the fire is asked to contact Tweed Heads Police on 0755069499 or Crime Stoppers on 1800333000.