Centenary Celebration

Collaroy TennisEvents

Racquets at the Reef

Under rarely-seen-these-days, blazing blue skies, Collaroy Tennis Club continued to celebrate our Centenary with a huge community open day on Saturday 15th October that we titled ‘Racquets at the Reef’.

It was a brilliant, fun day of social tennis, special exhibitions, music, food and drinks, raffle prizes and giveaways, all within the most perfect natural setting any tennis club can offer. Well over 130 adults and 25 juniors came through the newly sign-posted entry gates proclaiming ‘COLLAROY TENNIS CLUB – on the land of the Garigal people since 1922’.

Racquet at the Reef crowd
Just part of the 150+ strong crowd who attended Racquets at The Reef

And the day started in spectacular fashion as Garigal elder ‘Uncle Neil Evers’ conducted a Welcome to Country, complete with smoking ceremony to cleanse our Club of bad spirits and to promote the protection and wellbeing of all visitors to the site. (We hope the smoke did its job, although that suspect Welsh spirit, Rob Davies, was still in evidence throughout the day.)

Uncle Neil
Uncle Neil conducting smoking ceremony

Attendees were asked to walk in a line through the smoke as Uncle Neil spoke of his direct ancestors who lived on this very land and of the importance of respecting the site’s history as welcomed guests. It was a very special way to start the day.

President Vito Cincinnato officially opened the event, declaring it “… a fun day that gives us the chance to look back and continue to celebrate our 100 years as a Club, providing tennis to the local community.”

Vito with Uncle Neil
Club President Vito Cincinnato with Uncle Neil Evers

Everyone got into the spirit of the 100th anniversary by wearing white or retro gear, with Ros Ode taking the prize as ‘Best Dressed’ as she channeled Daphne Akhurst at Wimbledon in the 1920s. She had stiff competition from one visitor who could have been dressed as John McEnroe (or perhaps Ilie Nastase), along with club members like the Kitchen Drinks Station Crew, and Club Legend, Mark Petith, who wore his 50th Anniversary shirt from 1972!

Ros and Uncle Neil
Ros Ode channeling Daphne Akhurst with Uncle Neil
Ion Tiriac and friends
John McEnroe? and friends
Kids in the Kitchen, Retro style
Gals in the Kitchen, Retro style

Club sponsor Belle Property entered the spirit of the occasion, setting up a balloon-strewn tent and providing giveaways to all the kids in the crowd (as well as coffee vouchers for the adults).

Belle Property

A spectacular series of exhibition matches showcasing all aspects of our club, had the crowd enthralled throughout the day.

Under the watchful eye of Evolve Coach Paula Gibson Roy, two of our wheelchair members – Rafferty Stevens (just 10 years of age) and Isla Gillespie (16) – took to Court 4 to show us how ‘the Wheelies’ do it. After the match, attendees had the chance to take a chair and see for themselves, how tough this form of the sport really is.

Wheelchair tennis

A Junior Boys Singles match between Nick Ashton (aged 12) and Sava Marinkov (aged just 11) and a Junior Girls Doubles Match starring Emelie Chen (aged 12), Maiia Salibeva (10), Vesna Marinkov (12) and Marely Zoe Gutierrez Frias (10), demonstrated just how much talent we have in our Junior ranks. The girls in particular were sensational!

A Coaches and Students Challenge followed on Centre Court, with Evolve Founders Ryan Maloney and Scott Fletcher pairing respectively with Aiden Nitch (13) and Jamie Thompson (14). This was an absolute thriller, finishing in a closely fought Tiebreaker. (We’re still trying to figure out who took home the mid-week bragging rights!)

Coaches and junior tennis players
Teams for the Coaches & Students Challenge

Finally, six-time Club Singles Champion, Michal Korecky took on the nationally ranked James Gale with the Collaroy veteran Michal proving too strong for his younger rival on the day. All were brilliant matches that lent a real air of excitement to the afternoon.

While all that was happening, Chief Chef Colin Barden, ably assisted by Eric Belzer cooked up a storm on the Club’s new BBQ, carefully supervised by Catering Manager, Kate Byrne. And Lead Photographer, Anna Cosio snapped some classic shots at the Retro Photo Booth.

Racquets at the Reef BBQ
Collaroy Girls
Photo booth winners
Photo Booth Winners

There were delicious cakes and scones, supplied by talented members – masters of the culinary arts – and the odd glass of sparkling was consumed among other refreshments. The raffle winners were announced before Vito closed official proceedings and then more social tennis ensued long into a superb extended daylight saving evening. Racquets at the Reef was a day to remember and a fitting celebration of 100 years of tennis at our wonderful Club.