About the Ardfield/Rathbarry Tennis Club
The Ardfield Rathbarry Tennis Club was established in 1996 and in that time the club has made immense progress.
Interestingly it was the local youth club who first dreamt of bringing tennis to the rural communities of Ardfield Rathbarry and it was not until years later back in 1996 that a small group of eager but cautious parishioners launched what has now materialized into one of the most active clubs in the West Cork region.
The club has made great progress in a relatively short space of time; it was in 1994 under the auspices of the Community Development Association that the first ' hard court' was laid. A few years later following the formation of the Club in 1996 floodlights were installed and this paved the way to members playing tennis all year round and well into the night so much so that the floodlights were a regular landmark in the night sky during a dark winters evening. It also raised the level of interest in tennis locally with more and more people wanting to play and join the club.
Sadly, with just one court in play the options were limited and given the number of people wanting to play a second court became a priority. In co-operation with our friends in the St. James' GAA club, the tennis club drew up ambitious plans for a second court. Following successful support funding applications to both the National Lottery and West Cork Leader work on the second court complete with a state-of-the-art playing surface and floodlights was undertaken, at the same time the club took the opportunity to carpet the original court and today the club now offers some of the best playing facilities in County Cork.
The new and improved playing facilities were officially opened by the then Minister for Agriculture Joe Walsh T.D. in 2005 when to the delight of the large crowd who gathered to mark the occasion he proceeded to hit a couple of base line winners before declaring the two new courts officially open for play.
On the night Club Chairman Kieran White welcomed guests and reflected:
“Tonight’s celebrations are the culmination of years of hard work by a small and dedicated committee who worked tirelessly to make this dream become a reality.”
With two courts open for play all year round the club now provides an attractive range of activities and events for its 120 mostly family memberships. To improve the playing standard the club presents regular coaching sessions for members at all ages and levels; during the year the club engages in a number of inter-club matches, operates team league events as well as doubles and singles competitions. In addition a number of closed tournaments for both junior (at under 12, 14 and 16) and adult members and an annual open tournament.
The club’s policy to invest in its future is reaping rewards - the club continuously strives to improve the playing facilities and its highly rewarding to see the interest particularly at junior level. For the juniors the club runs a regular coaching programme together with a series of weeklong workshops during school holidays.
An important part of the Club’s recent history has undoubtedly been the participation in The Munster Winter League. It has been an exciting addition to our activities and has spread the good news about our small rural Club’s existence further afield, Indeed new contacts have been established and many more friends made within the tennis fraternity in County Cork.
To further enhance the facilities for both senior and junior Members and to be able to host visiting teams adequately – the immediate dream of the Board of Management is to build a small but practical pavilion.
The club also receives very generous support from a number of local sponsors including John O’Brien Car Sales, City Print (Cork), Eurospar, Daly, Barry & Associates, the Corcoran Family, Java Republic, John Lowney Jewelers and Jim and Hilary Blackwell-Landis who sponsor junior and adult competitions locally, together with special junior outings annually to Argideen lawn tennis and croquet club in Timoleague.
Each year Club President Jim Blackwell and his team of willing volunteers host four successful and well supported junior tournaments with record numbers taking part and organize inter-club outings to regional clubs Bandon, Ballinlough (Cork), Kinsale, and Lakewood (Ovens), and Carrigaline. Clearly, the club has a good future.
The club issues regular tournament and league reports to the local press and parish magazine – the ARC.