A tennis club in south-western Victoria which claims to have the worst courts in the state is appealing for some heavy hitters to help fund an upgrade.
Members of the Cororooke Tennis Club, near Colac, train on surfaces so dangerous that neighbouring clubs will not play there.
The club has been told it will have to close in a year without a major upgrade.
The club held a fundraiser at the weekend to try to get close to the $80,000 they need to fix the courts.
About 200 members and guests played on the substandard courts from dawn till dusk on the weekend with varying degrees of success.
“When you try to hit the ball there’s patches on the courts and you trip over them,” one member said.
“It has holes in the concrete and it has more mould than court,” another said.
Club president Frank de Lorenzo said time is running out to fix the courts.
“It’s far too dangerous, if you’re chasing a ball you basically slip on the stones that are lifting from the surface,” he said.
Local businesses have thrown their support for the club, but it is a difficult time for Cororooke.
Last month the dairy processor Fonterra announced it will be closing its factory in the town, cutting 130 jobs.
Members have written to organisations and individuals, including Clive Palmer and Gina Rhinehart, appealing for help.
Athena Wallace even wrote personally to Prime Minister Tony Abbott asking for support.
“I don’t like any other sport but tennis so I just really really hope he gives us the money for it,” she said.
Her mother, club vice president Virginia Wallace, says the community would be devastated if the club had to close.
“It’s a rural farming community. There is no sports oval. There is no playground. This is it in our community and that’s why we’ve literally got to get behind it and get our courts replaced,” she said.
Tennis Australia is aware of the problem.
In 2006, around half of all the community clubs in Australia reported their facilities were not up to standard.
Since then, the organisation has spent around $17 million upgrading about 1,800 community tennis clubs.
But Paul Cammack from Tennis Australia says more money is needed to ensure the sport’s future.
“Australia’s sporting heritage in tennis has been immense and a lot of those players have come from small country areas,” he said.
“We recognise that and we recognise the need for quality access to facilities throughout small and large communities throughout the country.”