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Young players bounce back after club blaze

HIGH SPIRITS: Hugo Creagh, Thomas Butcher, William Spedding, Thomas Spedding, Caitlin and Lucien Andrews get back on the court after fire gutted the Joan Nicoll Tennis Centre last week.
HIGH SPIRITS: Hugo Creagh, Thomas Butcher, William Spedding, Thomas Spedding, Caitlin and Lucien Andrews get back on the court after fire gutted the Joan Nicoll Tennis Centre last week. Scott Davis

THE chatter of emerging sports stars honing their tennis skills belied the devastation their club has been forced to come to grips with in the past week.

The Terranora Tennis Club has been reeling in the wake of a fire which gutted the 18-month-old clubhouse.

But players were back on the courts this week, determined not to let the disaster hold back their progress.

Terranora Tennis Club president Rob Nienhuis said an insurance inspection had pointed to a break-in, and subsequent arson, as being likely.

"It's absolutely gut-wrenching to think that someone would even think about doing that,” he said.

"I would have preferred they broke in, stole the goods and walked off with it.”

Mr Nienhuis said See Civil would be generously donating a temporary shed to the club until the charred building can be knocked down and replaced.

He said this would likely be in place by next week.

Coach Brendon Moore, who has been running lessons out of the centre for the past year, said the club was still absorbing the gravity of the fire.

"We're still obviously shattered,” Mr Moore said.

"We're just happy to be still on the court with the kids. That's the point, for kids to still be able to get out and have fun.

"The support has been incredible.

"The local community and local businesses, friends and friends of friends, are all helping.”

Mr Moore said a friend had launched a Gofundme online fundraising page for him, after the extent of the equipment losses were tallied.

Tennis coach Brendon Moore (Center) watches on as Louis Clark and Ethan Watts get back into training after a recent fire has gutted the Joan Nicoll Tennis Centre.
Tennis coach Brendon Moore (Center) watches on as Louis Clark and Ethan Watts get back into training after a recent fire has gutted the Joan Nicoll Tennis Centre. Scott Davis

"All that money, I'm giving straight to the club,” he said.

Mr Moore said the main challenge at the moment was the lack of electricity.

"Without electricity, as soon as the sun goes down, we go home,” he said.

Eighteen-year-old Louis Clark, from Byron Bay, typically trains at the centre under Moore's guidance each day. He said it vital for him to still be able to hit on the courts.

"Our training is every day,” Mr Clark said.

"A lot of people take time off school to train.

"It's pretty important to a lot of people.”

Mr Clark turned up for early-morning training on Friday, when he heard of the devastating blaze.

He arrived at 7am to find the clubhouse had largely turned to ashes.

He said many students had kept their gear inside the clubhouse, and had lost everything.

Banora Point teen Ethan Watts, 15, said while it was disappointing to think someone may have intentionally burnt the building, he was pleased the courts were not damaged and they were able to keep up their training.

Tweed Heads Fire and Rescue station officer Steve Sharp said investigations were ongoing.

Terranora Tennis Club has launched a fundraising campaign to address a shortfall in insurance after the fire.

Visit tennisterranora.com.au to donate.

Topics:  joan nicoll



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