Tennis was welcomed back to Stokes Bay in style on Friday evening, January 8 after a year-long absence from the spiritual home of tennis.
While the Kangaroo Island fires have produced many stories of heartache and struggle, they have also produced many positive stories and the Stokes Bay tennis courts rebuild is one of them.
Prior to the fires, the Stokes Bay courts were in need of a serious face-lift and fundraising had commenced with the club raising over $60,000, but much more was needed.
Enter a fire and a host of generous people and businesses from all over KI and Australia.
Marina Gregor headed up the fundraising and rebuild co-ordination with a passion.
And in just one year and five days, a completely new set of courts was built, which included lighting, and tennis was able to be enjoyed again.
Stokes welcomed Parndana for a Friday night game and both teams fielded 10 players a side.
A good crowd turned up to watch a Stokes first, tennis under lights
Parndana started well with the Kelly boys, Matt and Jarrad overcoming Marina Gregor and Will Stanton 9-7, and Ryan Tilling and Zach Trethewey beating the highly fancied cousin team of Michael and Fiona Stanton also 9-7.
Stokes rallied with a good win to Danielle Bowden and Sarah McCormack over Tarryn Putland and Melanie Lambert 9-5 and Caleb Pratt and Mark Bowden winning over (read solid spanking) Simon Kelly and Cam Stewart 9-2 even with Caleb struggling to keep his feet on the pristine, smooth court.
With scores level Kate Murray and Courtney Trethewey for Parndana battled it out against Eric Baker and Kate Stanton.
When they reached a tie breaker Kate and Courtney opted for age before beauty and let the old fossils of Eric and Kate scrape over the line to win 9-8 to Stokes.
Tea was served and it was great to see crayfish and Sarah Mac's Mexican dip back on the menu.
Mark Bowden made a pig of himself eating the majority of Sarah's dip and blamed bloody Covid for having no shared meals for a whole year.
Once everyone had feasted, tennis resumed under the lights which had taken full affect.
Zac pairing with Ryan for Parndana had a good win over Caleb and Fiona 6-4, with Zac having a solid tennis game for a cricketer.
Will and Dani combined well for Stokes, winning against Jarrad and Tarryn 6-3. Eric and Sarah couldn't overcome Kate and the rapidly improving Melanie (who was shaking off some rust and can hit a good ball) and lost 3-6 and it was all tied up at 4 sets all with only 2 sets left.
Michael and Mark just scraped over the line in a tie breaker against Simon and Ryan in a seesawing game and when Marina and Kate won 6-3 over Matt and Courtney, Stokes had won 6 sets 67 games to Parndana 4 sets 57 games and christened the courts in style.
It was a great night apart from the cold wind and Stokes look forward to hosting many more tennis games on an amazing set of courts.
The rebuild would not have been possible without generous donations from the Commonwealth Bank, State Government, Tennis SA, Stokes Bay Community Hall, State Emergency Relief Fund, Western Australian Farmers and the KI Mayoral Fund.
Also, thanks to the amazing Kangaroo Island community, who have also given generously in time, expertise and donations.
We hope that many of you will also be able to enjoy the facilities for which we are very grateful. - Mark Bowden