THE first seeds in a master plan to grow the Joan Nicoll Tennis Centre into the region's premier tennis and elite development location have been sewn.
The centre already contains three hard courts and two clay courts, but construction has begun on three grass courts, which would give the centre every major competition surface.
Club president Rob Nienhuis said the $160,000 project - partly funded by a $20,000 grant from the NSW Government and $10,000 from Tennis Australia - was stage two of a plan to expand an elite junior coaching and pathway program while attracting the world's best players.
"We're probably the most unique tennis facility between Brisbane and Sydney, and we see this as the performance training centre for tennis in the region,” Nienhuis said.
"We hope to attract all the big names to come out here and train on all the three world class surfaces we'll have.”
Catering to a member base of 160 players, the centre is a hub for 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.
Nienhuis said the placement of the three grass courts would be spread out, allowing the club to use two while rotating a third to keep playing surfaces in the best possible condition.
"Construction will be completed by October, November. It will take about three months for the grass to settle, so first thing in the new year we should be on it,” he said.
Former grand slam competitor Joan Nicoll, after whom the centre is named, said it was amazing to see the vision come to fruition.
"From the start we had the plans, but it was hard to think it would ever come into reality, but it has,” Nicoll said.