WARRNAMBOOL Squash Club is hopeful it has found a temporary home after the demise of its former base.
The absence of courts in Warrnambool since Action Fitness Centre shut its doors in January has forced club members to travel to Terang and Port Fairy for games.
Warrnambool Squash Club president Shaun Stapleton said the club was quietly confident it could resurrect the former Timor Street squash complex, giving its members a short-term solution.
The centre, which has six courts, was last used for competition seven years ago and sits empty.
Stapleton said he’d had discussions with the complex’s owner about renting the facility and would now raise the matter of permits with Warrnambool City Council.
The club hopes to be using the building in coming weeks if maintenance costs are manageable.
“If they turn around and say ‘you need a new staircase, it’s not up to regulation. You need to put so many new fire hydrants in, protection isn’t up to scratch with the hand rails’, then it starts costing thousands and we can’t afford it and the idea is gone and we’re playing in Terang,” he said.
Stapleton said the best-case scenario would be to use the Timor Street complex short-term with a long-term plan to get new courts in Warrnambool.
“It depends on the permits but hopefully in the next couple of weeks we can get the club up and going again,” he said.
Five-time squash world champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sarah Fitz-Gerald visited the complex on Sunday.
Fitz-Gerald and husband Cameron Dalley work for a squash court company.
She said it was important squash’s long-term future in Warrnambool was secured.
“I came down to Warrnambool many years ago when I was young and still going up the world rankings, so I played tournaments here,” she said.
“Warrnambool was a big part of my learning experience of how to get on the world tour. So to know Warrnambool has no squash courts basically is disastrous.”
Fitz-Gerald said she spoke to Warrnambool Squash Club about how to approach the council and encouraged it to do its best to get the Timor Street courts up to scratch.
“Someone has smashed windows ... which is always going to happen to buildings that have closed down and you can see it’s very dated,” she said.
“So it needs a bit of love and attention but it gives them somewhere to go rather than players giving up.”
Fitz-Gerald said it was sad to see sport struggling in regional areas.