Epping Tennis Club star flies flag for girls
Community sporting clubs are rife with unsung heroes who are the beating heart of their clubs. One such passionate volunteer is the social secretary of Epping Tennis Club – Lynn Kimber.
Seventy-one year old Lynn has played at her beloved club since the 70s. She’s been on the committee for 30 years and was president for 20 of those years.
Club secretary, Margaret Schooneveldt, reports that Lynn is a ‘priceless asset’ to the Epping Tennis Club.
“Lynn makes herself available for anything the club needs. She is always there to support new members and welcome them,” says Margaret.
What makes Lynn extra special is her wholehearted commitment to the Good Sports program’s value of inclusivity. In recent years, she has been spearheading the drive to get more women and girls playing tennis with a new female participation program.
Proud Good Sports club
Located in the City of Whittlesea, in Melbourne’s outer northern suburbs, the Epping Tennis Club has provided locals with a place to keep active and socialise since the 1920s.
For the past few years, it has proudly been involved with the national Goods Sports program and is now Good Sports Level 3 accredited – the highest level.
Good Sports has helped committee members ensure they have the correct policies and procedures in place, for example complying with liquor licensing regulations, having a safe transport strategy and ensuring the club is smoke-free. They want to look after members and the community who come and play tennis at the club.
“I like that the Good Sports program is family-oriented. We’ve always been that way, some of the members have grandkids that are playing at the club now. Good Sports fits nicely with where we are at and how we perceive our club – it’s where anyone fits in, no matter their background or level of skill,” says Lynn.
Female participation at Epping Tennis Club
In that spirit of inclusion and being welcoming, former club secretary Judy Snell applied for funding from the local council to boost female participation in tennis. The application was successful. Lynn, Margaret and Judy worked together to decide how best to spend the grant.
The resulting female tennis program was based around the idea of “have a hit, have a go”, says Lynn. “It was open for all women, eight to eighty years old.” It ran evenings and during the school holidays and has certainly achieved its goal of being inclusive.
“There’s been a lot of support from the local Islamic school. Girls from the school and even a lot of the office staff came down. We’ve had girls from Taiwanese, Japanese, Sri Lankan, Indian, Pakistani, Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi and Chinese backgrounds attend and even a Slovenian nun! It’s great, it was a very multicultural feel.”
“We’d throw on some snacks so we made it a bit social, we wanted them interconnecting,” says Lynn.
The ‘have a go’ sessions for women and girls began in January 2019. The program was so successful that it was extended into March and money was put towards hiring professional coaches. Another two female programs have been held since.
Lynn wants as many women and girls as possible to be able to play tennis. She knows how important community sporting clubs are in helping people feel connected.
Tennis coaching for girls
Making tennis lessons more accessible for female juniors is something Lynn is particularly passionate about. Epping Tennis Club has only recently formed its first junior female team. Previously it had to turn juniors away because there wasn’t enough participation to form a team – and Lynn wanted to change that.
“It’s hard to get girls up here,” Lynn says. “We still had some grant money left at the end of the program so we identified girls who wanted to go on with tennis and offered these kids discounted coaching for a term.”
The rest of the funding went towards group coaching for Epping’s current adult members, with a great turn out from women aged 20 years to 70.
Champion for an inclusive club
The female participation program was a huge success, but Lynn isn’t going to stop there. She has big plans for the club. More funding is coming in to work with local schools, and more applications are underway.
It’s this enthusiastic commitment to the growth and inclusivity of her club that makes Lynn such a star at Epping Tennis.