Nelson Bay Tennis Club hosting Dave Matthews Seniors Tennis Tournament from December 4 to 6

ORGANISERS: Dave Matthews Seniors Tennis Tournament director Steve Taylor with Nelson Bay Tennis Club secretary Cheryl Moss.

ORGANISERS: Dave Matthews Seniors Tennis Tournament director Steve Taylor with Nelson Bay Tennis Club secretary Cheryl Moss.

Any doubt Nelson Bay Tennis Club might of had in deciding to forge ahead with the Dave Matthews Seniors Tennis Tournament this year was immediately quashed when it opened registrations.

The club was flooded with 211 entries in just a few short weeks of opening registrations. On Thursday, the day before the December 4 to 6 tournament was due to kick off, it had 237 entries with room for more.

"It's shaping up to be one of the busiest, if not the busiest, tournaments we've ever had," tournament director Steve Taylor told the Examiner.

"There was some worry that we wouldn't be able to run the tournament this year because of COVID-19. If the restrictions hadn't of eased, we wouldn't have. We made the decision on October 1 to go ahead with it.

"I think a lot of people are grateful that they have a tournament to look forward to, that they can get away to the Bay for a few days. There's typically about 40 seniors tournaments held a year. This year there's only about 10, including ours."

The tournament for players aged 35 and above typically attracts 225 people, making this year's tournament the largest field of competitors yet.

Among those competitors will be two world champions - Helen Worland and Adrienne Avis. They will pair up in the Bay tournament's ladies double event together.

Worland and her husband Ian are currently the world champions in the 65-70 age bracket. The duo won the 2019 seniors event in Croatia.

Helen Worland. Picture: STEVE GOSCH

Helen Worland. Picture: STEVE GOSCH

Avis won gold at the 2016 ITF Super-Seniors World Individual Championships. She also won the final of the 2020 Australian Seniors Championships and 2020 Oceania Regional Championships (both in the 70s womens singles event).

Worland and Avis have played against and with each other for many years.

Nelson Bay tennis courts will be the centre of action across the three days of competition, which will kick off about 7.30am on the Friday and wrap up on Sunday afternoon.

Games will also be played at the courts in Shoal Bay, Soldiers Point and Fingal Bay.

The Dave Matthews Shield will be played for at the Nelson Bay courts on Saturday about 1pm. It is a men's doubles event. Last year the shield was won by Scott Baker and Michael Fitzgerald.

Taylor said one of the main reasons why the club has been able to run its competition this year is due to the number of people who have volunteered to act as COVID marshals and enforce the club's COVID plan for a safe tournament.

RETURN SERVE: The Dave Matthews Seniors Tennis Tournament returns to the Bay December 4 to 6. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

RETURN SERVE: The Dave Matthews Seniors Tennis Tournament returns to the Bay December 4 to 6. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

A COVID-safe plan has been drawn up for each of the four competition venues. There will be two marshals at three of the courts, and more at the Nelson Bay courts due to its larger size.

"Without that support from volunteers the tournament wouldn't be going ahead," Taylor said.

Taylor said the only difference to the tournament this year is that there would be no exhibition match to kick it off.

Due to the large size of the Nelson Bay and Fingal Bay courts, and the ability for people to distance themselves, spectators are welcome to watch games at these venues but not the Shoal Bay or Soldiers Point courts.