A Brief History
The Colonel Light Gardens & Districts Tennis Association was formed in 1932, with the first competition season being held during the summer of 1932-33 consisting of A & B Grades. It is believed that a Mr Herbert was the first President, with the first Secretary/Treasurer being Sam Sutton.
The name of the Association came about as all member Clubs were either within Colonel Light Gardens or a stones throw outside the suburb. The Association changed its name to the Southern Districts Tennis Association during its third season to actively seek new Clubs and by 1938-39 had expanded to four Grades.
Colonel Light West, Denman and Hope Ward remain the only pre World War II Clubs that still continue in existence today. Other Clubs playing before 1939 included Gana, Brownlea, Mortlock Park, Durham, St Augustine’s, Theresians, Inner Circle and Bonluth. Nick Sullivan and Arnie Fraser were the leading male players before the war and it is believed that they both won a string of Association Singles Championships during that time. Unfortunately no records of Association Tournaments before the war remain in existence.
The 1941-42 to 1945-46 seasons were suspended due to the war, although several combined teams are believed to have played in the Western United Tennis Association competition during that time.
During 1949 the Association adopted the official colours of Navy Blue & White.
Other Clubs no longer playing to join the Association immediately following the war years and throughout the 1950’s (some staying for a short time – others for quite a while) included Savings Bank, YMCA, Adelaide Co-op, All Saints, Edwardstown, Cudmore Park (later Clovelly Park), Eden Hills, Greenwood, Avenue Park, Victoria, ETSA, Shell, Maccabi, Polonia, Glenn Hutt, Double Y’s, Gaflac and Parkway. Also, current day Clubs Blackwood (1952-53), Kesmond (1952-53) and Kingswood (1954-55) all joined the SDTA during this time. Blackwood have maintained a constant association with the SDTA since that time, although Kesmond joined the WUTA in the early 1960’s (returning in 1981-82) and Kingswood disbanded in the early 1960’s and reformed for the 1977-78 season.
Outstanding players of the Association during the late 1940’s through to the late 1960’s included multiply Association Singles Championship winners Bruce Thomas (4 titles), Murray Fraser (10 titles), Alec Curlis (5 titles) and Roma Roberts (nee Linthorne) with 9 titles. The only other player, male or female, to win four or more Singles Titles has been Michael Degenhardt (5 titles) in the early 1990’s.
It was during the early 1950’s that Southern Districts became one of the first Associations to offer an organised junior competition and via the ongoing efforts of successive Junior Activities Committees this competition has arguably become Adelaide’s leading junior competition for players.
Other Clubs to join the Association at a senior level during the 1960’s and 1970’s, but who were all gone by the early 1980’s included Harwood, Glandore, ALP (later South Park), Excelsior, St Benedict’s, St Johns, Flinders University, SA Deaf, Nieass Reserve, Southern Suburbs, Bedford Park. Malvern also joined during this time and competed up until recent years.
It was in the 1971-72 season that “Grades” were replaced by “Divisions”.
By the late 1970’s the Association had allowed the introduction of coloured tennis clothes and began expanding in a southerly direction with current member clubs Flagstaff Hill (1978-79), O’Halloran Hill (1981-82), Bellevue Heights (1988-89), Coromandel Valley (1991-92) and Happy Valley (1991-92) all joining and becoming valuable Association members. Other clubs that joined for a short while in the late 1990’s included Hawthorndene and Reynella South.
With the disbandment of the Uniting Church Tennis Association in 2002, Unley Park Baptist, Trinity Pasadena and St Stephens Lutheran all joined the SDTA for the 2002-03 season. These Clubs have all been successful in winning premierships and whilst Unley Park Baptist has now disbanded, several of their players continue to play in the SDTA for other Clubs. Both Trinity Pasadena and St Stephens Lutheran continue to be highly valued and competitive Clubs within the Association.
After fielding junior teams for 4-5 seasons, Goodwood entered senior teams for the first time in 2008-09.
Today the Association boasts 13 active Clubs at senior level and 12 clubs & 2 schools (Mercedes & Walford) at junior level. Whilst competition formats have changed over the years (as well as the traditional competitions there are now Mens & Womens Only Divisions and a combined Doubles Only competition with Glenelg Districts) the SDTA continues to strive towards providing excellent tennis playing opportunities in a competitive, but friendly, atmosphere.