Kyabram Free Press
GMLTA is aiming to serve up a smashing summer of tennis
Spring is in the air and that means tennis season is just around the corner.
Goulburn Murray Lawn Tennis Association action will again grace the grass courts of the region and Mark Mills will be steering cross-court winners from the president's seat again after being re-elected at September 14's annual general meeting.
The structure of the GMLTA across the grades remains similar this summer, but some tweaks at the top provide exciting new opportunities for players in the region.
Although Bendigo is unlikely to return this campaign, the side's slot in the GM1 grade will be taken by a combined Shepparton-nathalia outfit.
"Shepparton Lawn and Nathalia are putting in a combined GM1 team, which is exciting," Mills said.
"Nathalia hasn't quite managed to snaffle a premiership in the second grade but have been pretty strong for a number of years. They just didn't quite have the depth to go up to GM1 on their own.
"They're mates with a few of the Shepparton players so the opportunity arose to have a top team competing on the Nathalia courts.
"Bendigo are unlikely to be back this summer, the travel was a lot in the end but I know they enjoyed playing over here."
Also on the cards is an adjustment to the amount of players taking to the court in GM1 matches.
"It looks like in the top grade we'll be moving up to four men and two ladies," Mills said.
"It's not fully confirmed yet but it looks like we'll be able to get to that point, which is great.
"There's plenty of players knocking on the door who deserve a go at the top level, and to bring that development spot in will really give them a pathway.
"Shepparton Lawn have also been very dominant in GM2 and pushing a few players up will hopefully even out that competition and allow clubs to compete for finals spots and wins all the way through the season."
Teams from much further south than the usual GMLTA area are also looking to join the grass-court competition in the near future.
"Avenel is looking at coming over to have a pathway for their younger players to play at a higher level," Mills said.
"Kilmore is also really interested to play up on the grass courts at Shepparton Lawn, and if they put a side in they would play home games in Shepparton.
"It speaks volumes for our competition that we have clubs who are willing to travel for their juniors, and players in general, to have more opportunities.
"It definitely is a big positive for our region."
Clubs can enter teams for the season until October 2, with the action originally set to hit off on October 16.
This will likely have to be pushed back, pending government restrictions.