Date change flagged as tennis tournament numbers drop

ORGANISERS of Warrnambool’s School Age Tennis Championships will consider a date change to arrest falling player numbers.

Tournament director Sam Baulch said he would contact regional schools in an effort to rebuild interest in the annual competition.

Just 90 students took part in the tournament, which wrapped up on Tuesday, a far cry from the 400 who took to the Pertobe Road courts three years ago.

Most of the players contested the under 10, 11 and 12 years’ age groups, while the under 15 and 16 years’ grades struggled for interest.

The low numbers meant the age grades featured round-robin tennis, with players taking to the court at least three times each.

“This year our numbers were down, which is very unfortunate,” Baulch said.

“We have to do some work next year to get it back to where it was.

“I think schools have got a lot more on. Camps, exams are later in the year and there’s a bit more accountability for teachers. They’re putting more workload onto the students later, things like that.

“We have to work with the schools next year to do something.”

Baulch said students from Geelong and Portland used to make the annual trip to Warrnambool but had not competed the past two years.

He said a date change for the tournament would come under discussion.

“We’ll have to talk to some schools and work in with them and work out which is the best time of the year, whether it’s in a first term format or a week or two later than it already is,” he said.

Warrnambool College and Woodford Primary School won the Dean Billings Shield, for the top schools in the secondary and primary school sections.

Baulch said participation was a key feature of the tournament, which meant the standard of tennis varied in each grade.

“It’s participation more than ability and that’s what we’ve always tried to push,” he said.

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