The Whangaparaoa Tennis Club has a rich history, dating back to the early 1950’s.
The first minutes in the archives are from the Citizen and Ratepayers Association AGM on 20 October 1951 where there was “only this day after a meeting of young folk on the sports ground a Whangaparaoa Junior Tennis Club had been formed for which the subscription had been suggested at £1.00 per annum”. The formal inception of the club is widely regarded as 22 Nov 1952.
The club started on the land currently occupied by the Bowling Club and Hibiscus Coast Veterans Tennis Club. This land was owned by Ted Brown and Laurie Taylor, and the Whangaparaoa Ratepayers Association took over this land in 1948 (conflicting reports as to whether land was gifted or purchased for £30 each section), with the bowling green and tennis courts constructed a few years later.
Administration of the complex was initially by the Whangaparaoa Ratepayers Association but later passed to the Rodney County Council. Tennis was the predominant sport and was the reverse of the current land occupancy of both clubs. The tennis club and the area became home for both the mens and ladies bowling clubs. Hibiscus Coast Veterans Tennis Club acquired their present premises in 1998 when greens were vacated following the Ladies Bowling Club amalgamating with the Men’s club.
The Membership fees for the 1952/53 season were set at £1.10 (Senior Men), £1.05 (Senior Women) and £0.10 for Juniors.
Membership consisted of enthusiastic locals and their children at the time when Whangaparaoa was a beachside holiday destination far out of Auckland. The club was very social with great community spirit – an atmosphere that remains to this day which we foster and are very proud of.
In the late 1950’s most of the members started playing golf. In those days, the weekend was reserved for sports as shops were closed. Tennis was not played in the winter months due to the gut strings becoming damaged in the wet weather.
Jack Hobbs had land in Gulf Harbour used for growing pine trees so he made this available to locals for casual golf in the winter months (many people smoked then hence usage was only when it was wet to mitigate the pine trees burning down). Golf’s popularity was to tennis’ detriment as locals opted to play golf year round and played on approved golf courses during the summer months rather than playing tennis.
In 1967, in an effort to stimulate tennis membership, an advert was placed in the local newspaper seeking members. Four individuals attended the Open Day – Larry Cross, Neville Bradley and two other local bach owners.
There was a hiatus for a couple years before another attempt was made to reinvigorate the club, with much success.
The facilities were sparse, with a long drop lavatory and an 8ft x 8ft shed used as a clubhouse and to make tea. The original teapot is now used as a trophy to annually recognise the member who has best served the club. The bar consisted of one of the members bringing a crate of beer! All players wore white for club days, similar to the tradition still maintained at Wimbledon.
The early 1970’s saw Whangaparaoa Tennis Club enter one team in the Rodney competition which included clubs in Warkworth, Tomarata, Wellsford, Te Hana, Kaipara Flats and Whangateau/Leigh.
As more people realised how beautiful the Hibiscus Coast is, the club experienced huge growth as the population increased and by the late 1970’s Whangaparaoa was the second largest club in Rodney district (behind Warkworth) and had two interclub teams, the maximum allowable number of teams for a club.
Clubs were very strong and were based on the rural community playing sport on a Saturday afternoon (shops were closed). Midweek ladies was against teams around the Hibiscus Coast.
Whangaparaoa Tennis Club did not have other local sports clubs competing for members, other than the surf clubs at Red Beach and Orewa. The club was very popular with children and was likened to a “child minding service” with no resident coach, but the regional coach would come down from Kamo and hold a weekly session in Kaiwaka. Aspiring players were shuttled to some, not all, of these sessions by Larry Cross (Life Member), Tuku Graham (Life Member) and other volunteers, and youngsters were able to play in senior competitions from the age of 12.
The Rodney team, comprising the best players from the constituent clubs, played in the Northland regional championships (from Whangaparaoa north to Bay of Islands) and dominated the competition.
The growth in population meant the two Manly courts were at capacity and the club moved to the current location in Edith Hopper Park in 1978. The land was being subdivided for new housing and a percentage of the land had to be dedicated to recreational area, so the club settled on this new location and began construction. Before the subdivision, the land was part of the Hopper family farm – the reserve was actually the cowshed (for ~130 cows) and during the Second World War, there were ~1000 pigs that were fed off the food leftovers from the ~10,000 American Army soldiers stationed at Army Bay.
The club was run by enthusiastic volunteers and everyone pitched in to get things done. This work ethos is exemplified with the construction of the new clubhouse and 4 new courts which was largely done with voluntary labour. Don McIntyre (Life Member) recalls building the roof trusses under his house and then transporting these to site. The old “clubhouse shed” was transported to the current site as a temporary measure and was later disposed on a member’s large section on Viponds Road.
The four courts had an asphalt base and “rice bubble” surface which allowed for good drainage of rain but became very slippery as the courts aged – Larry can recall Don playing club championships in his socks for increased traction!
In about 1980 the club decided to change allegiance from Rodney to the North Shore to allow better competition for the juniors and to have increased number of interclub teams
(interclub teams were limited to two teams in Rodney and not all members could be included in the teams). There was opposition within the club to this move due to the Rodney competition being very social and interclub was pitched at the appropriate skill level for the members.
Fundraising activities were common and included “24-hour tennisathon”, selling lamingtons, a New Year’s tournament that was a victim of its phenomenal success, Don calling Housie weekly in the local pub and even a car rally.
The courts were increased from four courts to six courts in 1998/99.
The club has produced many talented players, with a number of juniors taking up tennis scholarships in the USA. The club has also competed at the top levels of the North Shore interclub competitions and, at the time of writing, is still active in a number of interclub grades that cater for differing skill levels.
The club’s administration has always been in place with a strong Executive team. Key roles include the Presidents and Club Captains, noted below:
|David Rouse||1975 - 1977|
|Larry Cross||1982 - 1984|
|Morrie Lorigan||1986 - 1989|
|Don McIntyre||1990 - 1991|
|Roger Muirhead||1992 - 1994|
|Raewyn Sutton||1995 - 1997|
|Mark Watt||1998 - 2000|
|Dave Ball||2001 - 2003|
|Allan Croad||2004 - 2006|
|Bryan Barrett||2007 - 2009|
|Tony Weber||2010 - 2013|
|Jacqueline Ironside||2014 - 2015|
|Brendon Forbes||2016 - 2018|
|Harry Candlish||1978 - 1979|
|Larry Cross||1980 - 1981|
|Don McIntyre||1983 - 1985|
|Tuku Graham||1985 - 1986|
|Don McIntyre||1987 - 1989|
|Tuku Graham||1991 - 1992|
|Peter Maegaard||1994 - 1995|
|Adrienne Croad||1996 - 1998|
|Larry Cross||1999 - 2003|
|Bryan Barrett||2004 - 2006|
|Steven Lay||2008 - 2009|
|Alan Mitchell||2010 - 2011|
|Richard Holm||2012 - 2013|
|Simon Yock||2014 - 2015|
|Dave Bennett||2016 - 2018|
|Rob Hofma||2019 - 2021|
The Club has a strong sense of identity, with a new logo developed in October 2013 and installation of flagpole in 2015 to fly our club flag with pride. The logo is also on tennis shirts and hats, available for purchase by our members.
The Club is focussed on the future with a great website developed in 2011 and participation in regional pilot projects but still maintains the history of being a very social club within the local community.
We believe the time-honoured social reputation, sense of community and immense support provided by volunteers within our membership were key factors in the club being awarded “Club of the Year 2014/15 and 2015/16” in the Northern Region.
Many thanks to the following individuals who so graciously gave up their time and contributed to documenting the club history – Don McIntyre, Larry Cross, Tuku Graham, Colin Bickerstaff, Dave Eastwood, Silverdale & Districts Historical Society Inc., Tennis Northern, Whangaparaoa Library, Tony Weber, Bryan Barrett, and Brendon Forbes.