Game, Set and - nearly - Match for AECC Tennis
You know that feeling....you are in the final set against an opponent you would love to beat. You only need to win your serve to go on and win....you want to be in the club house being gracious in victory but to get there you just have to hold your nerve and serve out.
That is where we are at with the AECC Grass Courts Conversion Project. We are very close to victory, which means, in the short term, getting the go-ahead to tender the work. Everything is going our way but we just need to keep our concentration and haul ourselves over the finish line.
We wanted to communicate the good news to all tennis members with an update on where we are with the project and offer a tantalising glimpse of the transformed club we could be enjoying as early as next season. Where we have five largely redundant grass courts there will be five newly installed artificial clay courts and state of the art floodlights on a further five courts.
Our aim is a happy, balanced and professional club where those of us who love tennis, young, old, team players and social players can play the game well into the evening on every day of every season. The goal is more tennis at a club which is a beacon of good management and which looks outward rather than inward.
First a heartfelt thank you to all those - we know who you are - who have been so generous with their money in the form of donation and benches, and time and expertise in the form of The Spring Ball and other fundraising events. Everybody at the club should be thrilled these people are among us.
We are relying on that generosity and would urge anyone who has been thinking of making a donation towards AECC's future, however small, to do so as soon as possible. We do need your money. It is hugely appreciated. All the money we can gather in through donations will help to ensure we serve out to victory.
The financial position is looking positive. We have raised around £6,000 from members in donations and benches over the past month. The gap between the £400,000 we need and the money we have raised so far in donations, grants and loans is down to less than £50,000.
A thank you is in order to the LTA and Cheshire LTA for their substantial grants and loans and we can look forward to extra income as a tennis section and receipt eventually of the sponsorship cash from San Carlo.
There are many irons in the fire and not least an application for grant aid from the Alderley Edge Institute Fund. Ruth Samuels and Tony Francis will be arguing our case before the village's great and good. We have a good story to tell for the village. A successful project will transform our offer to school children for miles around. We wish Ruth and Tony the very best of luck.
A great deal of work, much of it technical, has been done in the background, often by a few dedicated and hardworking individuals. This is not the place to dig down into the research but to offer a few commanding highlights. The various planning permissions represented a huge hurdle but have now, thankfully, been crossed.
Much detailed work has been done on choosing the right surface. There is, we believe, almost universal support for an alternative surface to Astro Turf. Few, if anybody, wants us to be a one surface club and a surface which is not used in any major tournament in any place around the world.
Once support began focusing on artificial clay we began looking closely at cost, maintenance and sourcing issues. Many club players have played on artificial clay. It is an exciting surface which is both challenging for juniors and sympathetic for those who are older. Our researches are coalescing around two different clays, Lano Grand Clay or Advantage Red Court.
The upshot is that we believe we can answer any questions that artificial clay is too expensive to install, too sensitive to be hard-wearing and will require time consuming maintenance, not least member's diligent brushing. We believe that in the future members will look towards the artificial clay to see if they are in use before heading anywhere else in the club.
Floodlights have also presented a technical challenge in terms of lamp wattage, column height and design and the chosen technology. The good news is that we have an accepted design and an estimated price within the budget of the project. More work is being done. Currently there are five LED lamp manufacturers under consideration.
Research is also being carried out in terms of the process of booking floodlit courts. The emphasis is on making courts available as easily as possible. We are veering towards a squash style booking for the new floodlights where a certain degree of informality is built into the system. This is not, perhaps, the greatest priority because nothing needs to be up and running until autumn next year.
As part of the conditions of finance from the LTA, the project must use their technical consultants both at the beginning and at the end of the tendering process. Labosport, who visited us in June 2016 to produce a technical specifications report, have been contacted to start work on producing a Scope of Works document that will be used for tendering.
It is likely that we will go to a small number of main, single contractors for the overall project, although we may stipulate which floodlighting company we may want them to use.
There has been much informal discussion in the bar or terrace or on court about the project. Momentum is building as expectation and support grows. We know there are some who have reservations about its scale and ambition but we are determined to meet their most trenchant criticism that we will be leaving a heavy financial burden for the next generation. We will do our very best to ensure that is not the case.
We are convinced that this project will transform Alderley Edge Tennis Club into the go-to club in the county for both performance coaching and fun social tennis alike, and as byword for a progressive, professional club. We all love this club. It is an important part of our lives. We want it to be the very best it can be. So, keep your concentration, hold your nerve and serve out for the match.