SALE and Maffra tennis clubs will take part in a new Gippsland Premier League competition this summer.
Tennis administrators across the two Gippsland tennis regions – Central Gippsland and East Gippsland – have been active over winter to reintroduce a competition for its best senior and junior players, while also complementing the existing Saturday afternoon pennant competitions offered by associations and clubs.
In a break from tradition during in the inaugural season, the format of the competition combines the teams of two males and a female in a senior division with a junior 18 and under team of one boy and one girl in a separate division playing along side their senior counterparts.
The new GPL has attracted six senior and six junior teams in its first season with Sale and Traralgon to field two each, and one each from Maffra and Bairnsdale.
In keeping with a general trend to offer shorter seasons to accommodate changing work and social demands, the pre-Christmas 11-week season will also be more suitable for students heading to university in the new year. This season will begin October 6 with the final on December 15.
Organisers are aiming to provide three pennant seasons during each year.
There will also be season from February 2013, followed by a mid-year competition.
It is anticipated that more aspiring Gippsland players will see the GPL as a genuine prospect for being the peak Saturday pennant in periods to come.
Top level pennant tennis across Gippsland has been around on an inconsistent basis over the past 35 years.
The former long running successful Gippsland Tennis Association went into recess in the 1990s after the introduction of teams closer to Melbourne saw increased travel the biggest obstacle to eastern clubs. It was thought the then increase in tournament play and strength of associations’ pennant on offer at the time would be adequate, and clubs found the consistent fielding of teams increasingly difficult.
Tennis East Gippsland conducted a popular region wide pennant for six years before tennis culture changed and support waned, while subsequent attempts to re-establish a Gippsland wide pennant were made as soon as soon as two summers ago.