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Wesley O Brien, coach at Killaloe Ballina Tennis Club with some of the donated sports memorabilia ahead of a fundraiser that he is organising to buy a defibrillator for Ritsona Refugee Camp In Greece, and to fund forthcoming trips to set up tennis programs In other Greek camps. Photograph by John Kelly.

Killaloe club going under cover

A LOCAL tennis club look well set to make their own piece of history by becoming the first committee outside of Dublin to provide a permanent covered indoor tennis facilities as part of a major development estimated to cost in excess of €950,000.
Killaloe Ballina Tennis Club has served up an impressive volley in terms of new facilities with a plan that will make them the envy of clubs throughout Munster once they come to fruition.
Officers have already won a number of key matches, having secured planning permission as well as raising a massive €700,00 through fundraising, grants, club funds and donations.
The club currently has four tennis courts and this will be increased by another two courts. It currently has about 250 memberships, which includes a lot of family memberships that allows two adults and two children to use facilities.
As part of its latest fundraising drive, the club hopes to raise €37,000 this year to reduce the overall shortfall, which is in the region of €250,000.
Sufficient funds have been raised to fund the first phase of this development, which will cost €375,000.
The first phase comprises of the provision of the retaining walls and all the ground structures that are needed for the two new tennis courts.
The second phase involves placing the steel structure to cover the courts, while phase three will see the provision of fencing, lighting, landscaping and ancillary works.
It is expected the practice court will be completed in phase four at a later date.
Once Covid-19 restrictions governing construction are fully removed, the club hope to start ground works for phase one as quickly as possible.
Over the last seven years the development committee in the Killaloe Ballina Tennis Club (KBTC) has been preparing a long-term programme.
This will see the development of two new indoor courts, an additional outdoor mini-court with a practice wall, along with other club facilities added to the existing club facilities. This ambitious development will add to the existing club facilities of four floodlit outdoor courts and a clubhouse.
These developments will position KTBC as a forerunner in the growth of indoor tennis facilities in Ireland. The project will make history nationally as KBTC will become the first tennis club outside of Dublin to have permanent covered tennis courts.
There is a tennis club in Galway with a so-called “bubble” inflatable cover that can be taken down during the summer, but it is weather dependant and can’t be used all year round. Shankill Tennis Club in Dublin already has the benefit of similar type of facilities that are planned on the banks of Lough Derg.
The project has been part-funded by the LEADER programme, through the National Development Plan and by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The project is also supported by the National Sports Capital Grant program, W2 Foundation, the JP McManus Benevolent Fund, Tomar Trust, Clare Local Development Company, North Tipperary Development Company and Controllo Ltd.
“The provision of two indoor tennis courts at KBTC is a project that will contribute significantly to the Killaloe and Ballina Area, along with the entire Mid-West Region. Permanent indoor courts for year-round use are currently only available in Dublin, to deliver a facility of this standard for a Tennis Club in Clare will be a magnificent achievement for both the club and the local community” said Patrick Seymour, KBTC club chairman.
The club is urging the community of Killaloe-Ballina and the wider community to support this wonderful project. All contributions will be greatly appreciated. Donations can be made by visiting kbtc.ie and click on the Donate Now button on the KBTC home page or through the GoFundMe website.
Alhough planning permission was granted in February 2018 to cover two of the existing courts, members agreed to seek planning permission for two covered courts to be constructed below the existing courts in Bane Field, subject to financial viability at the 2018 annual general meeting.
Mr Seymour explained the club felt in the long term it would be better to cover the new tennis courts rather than try and cover two existing courts, which weren’t purpose built to be under a roof.
Clare County Council has granted planning permission for the revised plan.
This included permission to provide new and updated club infrastructure by constructing two championship grade tennis courts and associated retaining walls, fencing and high grade tennis court lighting to include proprietary fixed cover structure/ system with removable sides for summer; to permanently cover proposed tennis courts for indoor play; one mini practice court, practice wall and associated walls/structures and fencing; new club house, court viewing areas and associated canopes subject to five planning conditions.
Having regard to the zoning on the site, the existing established use on site and the pattern of development in the area, the planning authority decided the proposed development would not seriously injure the amenities of the area or of property in the vicinity and would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety.
Killaloe-Ballina Tennis Club was established at a public meeting held on June 22, 1984 and initially comprised twenty-four members. Following a few moves, the club finally found its home with the cooperation of Clare County Council.
Two tennis courts were constructed in Bane Field, New Street, Killaloe and these opened in 1988.
Floodlighting was installed for one court in 1995, with a similar improvement for the second court in 1998. With growing membership, a third court was added in 2001 to cater for continuously increasing demand.
This in turn generated the need for other kinds of facilities, and so the existing clubhouse was completed in 2003. An all-weather sand-filled artificial surface was provided for all three courts in 2004. The latest piece in the development project was the construction of a fourth court which was completed by Christmas 2007.

By Dan Danaher

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