There has been a renaissance at St Albans East Tennis Club, so much so that club president Son Nguyen predicts a local Vietnamese player will represent the country at the Australian Open within a decade.
Since Son, a retired St Albans bank manager, took over the club a few years ago, playing numbers have soared from “around 10” to 185, at last count in June.
Son puts the resurgence of action down to two things – using his banking clout and connections to build the club, and Brimbank council’s In2Sport program.
The program offers children aged between six and 18, and whose families hold either a health care card or pension concession card, up to 75 per cent off membership costs.
At St Albans East Tennis Club, Son has been chipping in for the rest, ensuring Brimbank kids can get a free hour of tennis each week.
Last summer, more than 70 new players signed up for Son’s free, two-month program. Tennis Victoria supplied racquets and balls.
“It was amazing, there were a lot of kids – they loved it,” he says proudly. “From that number, I’ve got about 40 kids becoming new members, aged between six and 15.
“There’s one guy the coach is training, he’s got some talent. I told Tennis Victoria, in 10 years there will be a Vietnamese player from our club representing Australia in round one of the Australia Open.”
The SETC has become Son’s baby since he retired in May. “I’m putting 100 per cent into the tennis club.”
The club’s free program for juniors runs from October 8 to December 10, on Saturdays from 4pm to 5pm. Call Son on 0403 471 388.
Applications for In2Sport close on December 1. Details: www.brimbank.vic.gov.au