As lawn tennis resumes, spare a thought for the blokes who fixed the courts

Members of the Murray Bridge Lawn Tennis Association have spent many hours fixing the damage caused by corellas last summer.

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Barry Griffiths and Bob Hancock have used special tools – and plenty of hours –to repair the lawn tennis courts at Sturt Reserve. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

When the lawn tennis season kicks off this weekend, thanks will be due to the hard workers who have made it all possible.

Murray Bridge Lawn Tennis Association grounds chairman Barry Griffiths and groundsman Bob Hancock have put in the hard yards to repair the damage caused by thousands of corellas in the autumn.

The birds destroyed every one of the 20 courts at Sturt Reserve within a matter of days, digging holes in the soft surface.

The association had been using a bird-scarer to try and keep them away, but was directed to turn it off in April.

After the feathery pests left for the winter, the grounds team got to work, filling in the hundreds of holes they had left and cutting and re-planting sections of turf by hand.

Mr Griffiths said the whole operation had taken more than 55 hours’ work.

“We’ve put a lot of effort into making the courts playable,” he said.

“They were absolutely destroyed.”

It wasn’t the first time they’d needed to do this sort of work, either – the corellas have been a problem for years.

The association had tried using scarecrows, kites and shiny CDs to scare the birds away, and even low netting to keep them from landing on the courts, but without any luck.

Mr Hancock hoped the Murray Bridge council would be able do something, anything, when the corellas arrived this summer.

“They have been promising for the last five years that as soon as the scout group (of corellas) gets here, they’re acting,” he said.

Early on would be the time to strike, Mr Griffiths said: “If you can start doing something at the start, when the first few scouts come in, we might have a bit of hope.”

Tennis season will take a new format

The doubles tennis season starts this Saturday, September 18 with a new mixed format.

Players will form four teams of six, with players ranked on merit rather than being sorted into men and women.

The doubles season will finish up in December instead of dragging on through January and February, when it has traditionally been interrupted by heat and by a tournament in the South East.

Pennants tennis will resume on October 9.

Anyone interested in playing lawn tennis this summer can head along to the Sturt Reserve courts on a Saturday, when juniors play in the morning and seniors in the afternoon; from 3pm on Wednesday; or from 9am on Thursday.