Years of drought followed by a devastating fire in 2009 and decimating floods in 2011, the Wimmera region in Victoria has done it tough in the past decade.
But Wimmera residents will have a reason to smile on Saturday when Haven, a community on the outskirts of Horsham, welcomes the AO Blitz.
The AO Blitz activation coincides with the start of a new tennis season in the region and completion of the $4.2 million Wimmera Tennis project, which saw 28 new courts built in six months across six Wimmera clubs whose courts were affected by the 2011 floods.
Horsham Rural City councillor and Haven Tennis Club stalwart Sue Exell said it would be a big day for the region.
“It is pretty exciting,” she said. “We’re very lucky to get these courts; there was a fair bit of damage done by the floods.”
Cr Exell will have the honour of officially opening the eight new concrete courts at the Haven Tennis Club on the day, which complement four existing concrete courts which escaped flood damage. She said tennis in the region was the biggest winner from the redevelopment.
“We’ve got a record number of junior teams at the club this season and now we’re looking at adding more social competitions to go with our junior and senior competitions and MLC Tennis Hot Shots program,” she said.
Tennis Victoria Country West community tennis officer Sue Dundas said the official opening of the Haven courts and AO Blitz visit ties in with a monthly market held at the venue and would be a chance to thank the community for its involvement in the flood recovery process. She said Horsham Rural City Council representatives and contractors involved in the project would be thanked and recognised on the day.
“We’re getting all the community together,” she said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. We want everyone to be going away with a smile on their face.”
The event coincides with the ‘Wimmera Week of Tennis’ promotion, which involves clubs hosting open days on Sunday 6 October, MLC Tennis Hot Shots demonstrations at Wimmera schools during the week and finishing with twilight competitions across the region on Friday 11 October.
Australian tennis legend John Fitzgerald will be at the Haven Tennis Club as part of the AO Blitz visit on Saturday from 10am to 1pm, bringing the Australian Open trophies with him. The club is located at 4380 Henty Highway, Haven.