The lawn tennis court at Guy's original property, Buderim, in 1895.
The lawn tennis court at Guy's original property, Buderim, in 1895. Picture Sunshine Coast

Tennis at the centre of Coast's social scene

AS Australians gather to celebrate our tennis greats at the Australian Open, spare a thought for our pioneering tennis players and the pivotal role tennis played in the social and cultural development of the Sunshine Coast.

From the earliest days of settlement, the game of tennis and its social activities provided an outlet for enjoyment amongst the early pioneer townspeople.

At the turn of the century, tennis clubs were considered essential infrastructure for local communities.

The clubs were self-funded, with funds for the upkeep and maintenance of the tennis courts raised by social days, social evenings and dinner dances.


Not only did tennis clubs provide an avenue for sport, they also provided a way for communities and people to get together and socialise.

Tennis had a regular column in the Nambour Chronicle and articles regaling the tournaments and social gatherings were a regular feature in the paper.

Attending a tennis match was not a simple thing.

On June 30, 1905, the Nambour Chronicle gave an insight into the difficulties of inter-town tournaments.

It recalled a match between teams from Buderim Mountain and Woombye. The article not only congratulated the winning Buderim team but then talked about the wonderful comradeship afterwards and how the day ended with "three cheers for the ladies".

With that, the Woombye group rattled on their wagon, past the school cheering and cheering again and again on their way back to Woombye.

"It would seem distance and lack of transport was not a deterrent to a good day's tennis," the report concluded.

Nambour Tennis Club, which is still in existence today, held a social fundraiser. The newspaper reported "the committee worked really hard with the elaborate decorations, which consisted of piccabeen and fan palm leaves, flags and some beautiful roses effectively arranged with the club colours, dark and light blue".

Extra care was taken with the floor and the committee, on completing its work, placed the design of a miniature tennis court in the middle of the dancing space.

Social events such as these were numerous and provided a sense of community for the people living in the small rural towns.

The start of World War One did not dampen the spirit of the tennis set with the continuation of games and social events.

Funds raised went to the Red Cross or other similar funds dedicated to the welfare of returning soldiers.

Tennis also acknowledged the contribution of returning veterans with local soldiers being made life members of some tennis clubs.

World War Two also saw a continuation of tennis, but not tournaments, as one of the major problems was the lack of new balls.

The government allowed the balls to be recycled and this allowed games to continue.

Reprocessing of tennis balls for civilian use received official approval. This involved stripping off the old cover, reinflation of the ball and recovering with new material, which produced a first quality article.

Fixtures returned in April 1945 and the opening day of the Maroochy tennis season in April 1946 surpassed the pre-war days.

Each local town had its own tennis club and courts.

Mooloolaba Tennis Club was initiated in 1947 and was situated where The Wharf development is currently.

It was unique in some aspects of its management as in the early days, members had to wait until the tide subsided before play could commence.

Mooloolaba also had an all-female committee from 1959 to 1962, with the committee members needing to water, roll, seep and mark the court twice weekly.

The club continued the traditions of social and sport mixing, with its annual Christmas party including Santa's arrival in a Mini-Moke.

The tradition of every town having a tennis club continues today with newer developments like Kawana Waters, where a tennis club was established in 1975 with the assistance of Noel Burns.

Many of the local tennis clubs have links to our pioneers.

Land for Glenview Tennis Club was donated by Ewen Maddock and a hall and tennis court were subsequently built on it.

In 1927, the new hall was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Brisbane and the tennis club was formed on May 22, 1927. The club still operates from the original site.

Yandina Tennis Club was formed prior to 1915 and initially called the Elite Club.

It was followed by the Excelsior Club in 1919 and the Lake Point Club in 1921.

In the late 1920s, tennis was so popular there were six clubs in the Ninderry association and another association based in Nambour.

Currently there are 19 clubs and schools that make up the Sunshine Coast Tennis Association.

There were also some courts in country areas that were privately owned by rural families.

Social tennis was played among families and friends as entertainment and a chance to get together.

Fashions on the court were also of interest, with women in the early part of the 20th century playing tennis in white mid-calf length dresses with matching hats.

Tennis was considered a genteel sport and the tennis clothing reflected the refinement of the sport.

By the 1920s, hemlines had risen but styles were straight and restrictive.

By the 1930s, the dresses were slightly above the knee with a flared skirt much more useful for getting those aces.

By 1945, white above-knee fashions were gracing the courts and whites were still the regulation colour for tournaments such as Wimbledon.

Fashions for men have changed little with white pants and white shirts of various designs still being worn today.

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council's Heritage Library Officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.

In 2017 we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Naming of the Sunshine Coast. For more information on this milestone anniversary visit

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