Plan’s boost for tennis - president

By Corowa Free Press

Federation Council’s draft master plan for Ball Park looks fantastic and will be a great asset to the town as well as attracting many people to the precinct.

That’s the view of Corowa Tennis Club President Greg Filliponi, who is featuring in this week’s edition of The Free Press.

“The plan includes replacement of grass courts with more synthetic or rebound ace courts which helps reduce our maintenance costs but losing our grass courts will upset the many tennis purists who love to play on grass courts,” the president since 2008 and on the committee since 2001, said.

“The plan has involved all the major parties working together, for the benefit of all involved.”

Established in 1880, the 140-year-old tennis club has three teams playing in the Saturday afternoon competition and one Saturday morning junior team. There is also a Wednesday evening twilight social competition with some eight teams. The club has 15 grass courts and four synthetic courts.

Corowa Tennis Club starts its season mid-October in the NERTA - North East Regional Tennis Association - which includes teams from Wahgunyah, Rutherglen, Chiltern, and Wangaratta and district clubs.

“I am fairly optimistic that we can be in a position to start our competitions by then following the COVID-19 rules specified by NSW Tennis,” Mr Filliponi, who will certainly be ready, said.

“We have set up some gym equipment in the back room of our home and I also go on a bike ride or a run at least a couple of times a week, riding with the CRABS (who featured in last week’s edition of The Free Press) on Saturday morning.” 

The 57-year-old grew up at Lowesdale then moved into Corowa when he and wife Debbie married in 1990.

Tennis has been strong in the Filliponi family for decades, with a young Greg starting at Buraja juniors “probably aged 10 or 11”.

“We also had a tennis court at home and with four older sisters and a younger brother who all played tennis, there was always someone to have a hit with,” he said.

“Buraja was a strong club in the Buraja & District Tennis Association during the 80s and 90s playing against clubs from Rand, Urana, Oaklands, Coreen and Daysdale, winning four premierships in a row in the mid-80s. Dwindling player numbers saw the Buraja club fold and in 1999 we started playing for Corowa.” Filliponi was made a Life Member of Buraja Tennis Club.

In 2015 he was also made a Life Member of Corowa Tennis Club where he is a dual singles club champion at Corowa and seven time doubles champion with his brother Peter.

Plenty of stars have graced the courts at Ball Park including Wayne Howard who has won nine consecutive club champion titles, Darrell Spencer with eight to his name and Len Reynoldson  has six titles.

Standouts in the women’s tennis include Marianne Spencer who has won nine club championships  and Marion Chappell, who has her name on the board seven times. 

Most locals know that former professional player Sam Groth was a junior player at Corowa for a number of years.

Of his toughest opponents, Filliponi rates Darrell Spencer and Scott Francis from Corowa, and Scott Solomo and the Lucus brothers from Wangaratta as “pretty hard to beat at the moment”.

“Other tough opponents from the Buraja days were Alan Stewart from Rand, Tom Bourke from Urana and Tom Comtesse from Oaklands.”

For the past 16 years, Greg and Debbie have been the tournament organisers of Corowa Tennis Club’s Easter four-day tennis tournament.

A younger Greg Filliponi was also synonymous in Aussie Rules football with Hopefield Buraja Football Netball Club where he played over 350 games from 1980 to 2003, including as a member of back-to-back premierships in 1995 and 1996.

In 1994 he won the senior best and fairest award, the year in which he was made a Life Member at the club he served as president and secretary in two three-year stints. 

The achievements and milestones just keep coming for three club Life Member Filliponi, who is Manager at Max Maclean’s Timber & Hardware in Corowa.

It will be a total of 40 years in the business coming up this year for the person who contributes so much to the community.