Merriwa Tennis Club members ready to welcome $122,000 facelift at King George V Avenue courts

IT might not match the hallowed All England Club at Wimbledon, but Merriwa's tennis players aren't complaining.

After years of being snubbed for funding assistance, and putting up with near-unplayable courts, the local sporting organisation will boast a state-of-the-art surface at the King George V Avenue facility by the end of the month.

The Merriwa Tennis Club finally received good news in May when New England MP Barnaby Joyce said it would benefit from the government's Drought Communities Program.

Now, with work well and truly underway, the $122,000 facelift includes resurfacing of four courts with a new synthetic surface and re-purposing of the back two into multi-use tennis courts, which will accommodate basketball, netball and futsal codes as well.

"The members are certainly going to notice the difference," Powercourt's Mark Keating said.

"It'll be a bit slower, however the courts will last longer.

"But, the previous ones [courts] were atrocious.

"I don't know how people played on them.

"We had to grind the bitumen flat, then slurry coat the surface to level it out.

"That was before we could even lay the courts on it."

Luckily for the Merriwa Tennis Club, Mr Keating is the right man for the job.

A former local, he's also completed projects at Scone, Denman, Muswellbrook and Upper Horton over the past few years, with more to come including Currabubula.

"I guess it's all thanks, in recent times, to Barnaby [Joyce] and the government's funding programs," he said.

"Rural and regional towns have long, proud traditions with sport and Merriwa is no different.

"We finished courts one and two last week.

"And, we'll complete three and four within the next fortnight, weather permitting.

"It's virtually a week for every court.

"However, I don't think the players will mind when they see the final product."

Dwindling membership combined with worsening drought conditions in the region meant the Merriwa Tennis Club was on the brink of collapse a few short months ago.

But, because of the upgrade, interest has increased tenfold, according to president Jason Bear.

"We've been in drought for a long time and, as in any small town, sport is very important and without this funding, this tennis club would have had to close due to the surface and lack of interest," he said.

"Now, we have more than 40 members on our books, so hopes are high for a resurgence."