Inaugural Metropolitan Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament media launch

(18 November 2011, Prince Alfred Park Tennis Centre Surry Hills)

We're here today to launch the inaugural Metropolitan Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament.

I want to acknowledge

  • NSW Minister for Sport and Recreation, Graham Annesley
  • Wheelchair Sports NSW CEO Jim O'Brien
  • Competitor and coach, Mick Connell
  • David Burns, City of Sydney Aquatic and Leisure Coordinator
  • Matt Starr, community tennis officer, Tennis NSW
  • Pat Jensen, Jensen's Tennis Director

Welcome to Prince Alfred Park!

This was the camping place of the local Gadical people until the 1850s, and I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, and to pay my respects to the Elders, both past and present.

In the early 19th century it was known as Cleveland Paddocks, after Cleveland House over there in Buckingham Street. A portion was carved off in 1850 for the railway and in 1856 another section was taken for the Cleveland Street Public School.

The remainder was gazetted as a park in December 1865.

Later, it was the first home to the NSW Agricultural Society Show and a beautiful pavilion was built for an international exhibition. That building remained until 1954, although the Show moved in 1881 to Moore Park.

The City of Sydney is completing a major renewal of Prince Alfred Park - the first it's had in 50 years.

The $18-million-plus renovation includes passive space (including a meadow), barbeque facilities and children's playground.

For active sports it includes a running and walking circuit, exercise areas, two basketball courts, a new half court activating the look-out space over Central Railway, and a heated pool. The stunning Nick Murkett designed pool, which will be completed in February, has landscaping folded over the structure of the change facilities.

Importantly for today, there are five new tennis courts that are wheelchair accessible and international standard, with the same plexi-cushion surface as used in Melbourne Park—home of the Australian Open.

These new tennis courts will play host to the first Metropolitan Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament next month, attracting elite sports people from around Australia.

The International Tennis Federation-sanctioned tournament is the first of its kind to be held in the Sydney CBD.

The Wheelchair Sports NSW Metropolitan Open will be held from December 2 to 4, and will coincide with international Day of People with a Disability on December 3.

Congratulations to the organisers.

Thank you.