Crime scene set up after fire destroys tennis clubhouse
MEMBERS of a Terranora tennis club destroyed in a fire are determined to return to the courts as quickly as possible.
Joan Nicoll Tennis Centre vice president Dion Andrews said he wanted to ensure children didn't miss out on their tennis lessons despite the fire destroying all of the club's equipment.
"Hopefully we'll have kids back on court by Monday," Mr Andrews said.
"We don't want to lose any kids next week.
"I'm about to try to get all new balls as we've got nothing for the kids to play with."
Police are continuing their investigation into the cause of the fire.
POLICE have established a crime scene after the Joan Nicoll Tennis Centre burnt down early this morning.
Tweed/Byron LAC Acting Inspector Jackie Lilley said the cause of the blaze was not yet known.
"Emergency services were called to the location at 3.55am this morning," she said.
"Upon arrival, the tennis club was engulfed in flames.
"It's taken the fire brigade about three hours to secure the building and to put the flames out."
Insp Lilley said Tweed Heads detectives were carrying out an investigation into the fire, which is being treated as suspicious.
"They are seeking any information that the community might have to assist us with the investigation," she said.
She said a resident overlooking the tennis centre has woken for an unknown reason shortly before 4am, before spotting the glow of the blaze and calling Triple 0.
Insp Lilley said the building was being secured and there would be a coronial investigation into the incident, due to the value of the building.
"At this point, there is some concern in relation to structural damage," she said.
"We have to ensure the electricity has been isolated... and we have concerns about the roof collapsing."
She said this would be addressed to ensure the scene was safe for NSW Police and Fire and Rescue officers to carry out a "systematic and thorough investigation".
She said a fire investigation unit had been requested.
There was minimal damage to the tennis courts themselves.
AN EARLY morning fire has almost completely destroyed the Terranora tennis centre.
Coaches and community members gathered at the scene in distress as they watched emergency services assess the charred remains of the Henry Lawson Drive centre.
Half of the club house has crumbled, with the section closest to the tennis court completely gutted.
Tweed Heads Fire and Rescue Service senior firefighter Greg Mackay said they were called to the scene just before 4am (NSW) to find the centre almost completely engulfed with flames.
"At this stage the ignition cause is undetermined," Mr Mackay said.
Mr Mackay said it was believed the blaze had begun in the kitchen of the clubhouse.
Firefighters from Tweed Heads and Banora Point attended, with the last leaving the scene at 8.15am.
The tennis centre's media officer Judy Cartwright said they were "absolutely devastated" by the fire.
Tweed Byron LAC inspector Jackie Lilley said nearby residents had alerted emergency services after seeing the blaze around 4am this morning.
She said the fire was being treated as suspicious and Tweed Heads detectives would investigate.
Named the Joan Nicoll Tennis Centre after club patron and former grand slam competitor Joan Nicoll, the club is a hub for the sport's junior elite in the area.
Just two months ago, plans were announced to further expand the site, with a $160,000 grant to begin construction of three grass courts, which would give the centre every major competition surface.
The club boasts some of the region's best juniors, including a state champion and 16 players involved with the North Coast Academy of Sport. Its junior coaches include ex-tour pro Brendon Moore, a hitting partner of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and former John Newcombe Tennis Ranch coach Tom Brownhill.