The City of Onkaparinga Challenger 2015 has been a labour of love for the community of the Happy Valley Tennis Club, as they work tirelessly to host one of the longest running Australian Pro Tour events in South Australia and a feature of the Adelaide summer calendar.
After nine years as a successful Futures event, a recent upgrade to ATP Challenger level has brought with it an increase in prize money and world rankings points. As a result, it has attracted topflight players from Australia and internationally, with 2006 Australian Open runner-up and perennial crowd favourite, Marcos Baghdatis, already confirmed.
With support from Tennis SA and Tennis Australia – and the City of Onkaparinga who ensured the rise in status by covering the required license fee – the event runs from January 3-11, 2015, and marks the first time that a metropolitan tennis club will host a major tournament leading into the Australian Open.
Of course, such an increase in profile comes with it a heightened workload to ensure the now larger and more logistically challenging event is hosted seamlessly. For a local club like Happy Valley, that’s quite the task, but it’s clear it’s one the community is intent on rising to.
“I think the club has pulled together unbelievably for this event,” said Simon Longhurst, Happy Valley Tennis Club President.
“It’s a very family-oriented place and we’ve had overwhelming support from our committee members to our social players. Everyone from the club has worked so hard to make this happen.
“At the moment, I think we’ve got about 75 volunteers and 50 ballkids.
“I can’t thank Tennis SA enough either,” he added. “It’s just been a really great team effort to get to this point.”
With Power Health Solutions on board as the local major sponsor, the club has ensured it can deliver a premier event and Longhurst is looking forward to offering players and spectators alike a top class experience.
“From a club perspective, the contribution of Power Health Solutions has been absolutely invaluable in terms of hosting the event,” he said.
A global business offering specialised hospital and healthcare organisations with technology for costing, billing and patient safety, Power Health Solutions has been very proactive in supporting youth sport.
Patrick Power, CEO of Power Health Solutions, has been an ardent supporter of both the Happy Valley Tennis Club and the event itself, says Longhurst.
“By getting behind us in the manner he has, we really hope Power Health Solutions can successfully further Patrick’s agenda of helping youth tennis,” he said.
With Coopers, Wayne Phillis, Aberfoyle Cleaning, Keith’s Office Furniture and St Francis Winery among others also contributing to the event, Longhurst says the level of local sponsorship has been terrific across the board.
But as opening day moves swiftly closer, activity at the club continues to mount.
“The next couple of weeks are going to be pretty busy,” said Longhurst. “There’s still a lot of infrastructure to put in place, from courtesy cars to marquees and much more, but at the moment everything is on track.”
Situated in Aberfoyle Park in Adelaide, the Happy Valley Tennis Club is steeped in history and includes players of the ilk of Lleyton Hewitt who played pennant tennis there back in the late nineties.
“It’s a neat place to play tennis,” said Longhurst. “I think we can satisfy the players and provide a great spectacle for people coming along to watch.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we filled every seat.”