It was a momentous moment in the history of Athlone Tennis Club on Tuesday morning as local Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Robert Troy, performed the official sod turning to mark the formal commencement of Phase 1a development works adjacent to Athlone Regional Sports Centre.
The progressive local sporting organisation has embarked upon an exciting new project to develop a state-of-the-art tennis complex adjacent to the Athlone Regional Sports Centre.
When all three phases are completed, the proposed facility will incorporate six tennis courts, two children’s courts, clubhouse, LED floodlights, and specialised warm-up and training areas.
A significant feature of the proposed complex will see three of the six tennis courts housed indoors, under a dome (planning application will be submitted next month for the dome, pre-planning meetings have taken place and the council support is positive ), which will afford members the opportunity to play tennis all year round, irrespective of any inclement weather conditions.
The initial Phase 1a development includes the construction of three artificial clay surface tennis courts, LED floodlights, a temporary clubhouse and all associated civil works.
Plans for this new development have been ongoing for some time with dedicated development, finance and fundraising teams liaising with the executive committee and working closely with Westmeath County Council and local politicians to realise the ambitions of all Athlone
Tennis Club members.
Westmeath County Councillors (Athlone-Moate Municipal District ) agreed to lease the club a 1.3-acre site over a 50 year term which is adjacent to the Athlone Regional Sports Centre and with recent funding of €150,000 from LEADER Transition programme, a Sports Capital programme award of €97,116 and a very successful Bond scheme (€120,000 ) sold to members, Athlone Tennis Club can commence the state-of-the-art development project.
This exciting development will strengthen the sport of tennis in the Athlone and Midlands region and will prove to be an invaluable recreational amenity.
Rewarding Future for Club Members
Welcoming the numerous dignitaries to the sod turning occasion, Athlone Tennis Club chairperson, Cathal Kenny, noted the significance of the development and the positive impact it will have within the community when the project is ultimately realised.
“Formed in 1885, Athlone Tennis Club has had numerous ‘homes’ over its 137 year history and there was a realisation amongst members that the club needed our own stand-alone complex to allow for future progression.
“This, along with ageing facilities that had served the club well and an ever expanding membership, generated the drive of various committees over a long number of years to strive for what will now be our new home here on the grounds of Athlone Regional Sports Centre.
“Today is hopefully the first of many milestones the club will have over the coming months and years. One committee member recently coined the line ‘small club big ambitions’ and I could not but it much better myself.
“Today, we turn the the sod on phase 1a of our development, a project costing approximately €500,000 and encompasing three new state-of-the-art all weather artificial clay tennis courts with associated energy efficient flood lighting, perimeter and internal fencing, a temporary clubhouse and internal hardstanding circulation areas,” Mr Kenny enthused.
The chairperson afforded his appreciation to Athlone GAA for housing the club for over 50 years and looked forward to a rewarding future for the club’s numerous members.
“We have avery vibrant and active club membership, one which has seen very strong growth over the last few years especially since the start of the pandemic. We now boast a memberhip of almost 400 which continues to grow.
“Tennis is one of the few games that can be played by all ages and it accommodates all abilities and our club provides for all cohorts and genders, from young children to the more experienced members in their 70s and 80s.
“Our club is an outlet for those who wish to play the game of tennis competitively, but also socially and recreationally, an aspect that is really important to members and the club.
“Tennis also provides great exercise for both mind and body and its game duration and flexibility lends itself neatly with modern day living,” Mr Kenny continued.
When complete, the project spend will be approximately €1.5 million
“The club’s ultimate goal is to provide state-of-the-art facilities for our members, the people of Athlone and its environs but additionally to become a regional centre for tennis expansion in the Midlands.
“The Athlone Tennis Club committee also see our development as dovetailing with the NPF’s Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy which designates Athlone as a regional centre. This national strategy clearly states that Athlone needs to be further developed as a place where people want to live, work and play.
“As part of the town’s economic and social advancement, Athlone Tennis Club’s completed ambition will add significantly to what Athlone and the Midlands region has to offer over the coming years.
“The club will need the support of all stakeholders as part of future development phases and we hope you can all help us in some way to achieve our goals, for the betterment of tennis in Athlone and the Midlands region, adding to what the town has to offer,” Mr Kenny concluded.