1987 saw the introduction of the Club's panel coaching system. Peter Thompson,
Les Mellor, Angela Fuller and Bill Oakley were to be the coaches, with Les Mellor
handling the administrative side. Peter Thompson was designated as Club
Improvements to the layout of the pavilion were planned and presented by
Bill Low and agreement was reached to install doors from the bar area to the
patio. The other changes were put on hold following a report from the LTA court
specialist to the effect that the condition of the All Weather courts was poor
and would need early attention. Money needed to be spent to bring the ageing
shale courts up to match play standard as a priority. A committee meeting was
held to consider solely the way to use the Club's funds to provide the best
playing facilities. It was decided that Courts 3 and 4 should be re-surfaced as All
Weather courts (some doubt as to whether two doubles courts would fit into the
space); work on the shale courts would be essential and Court 9 handed over to
become additional parking space once new All Weather courts were completed.
The AGM endorsed the committee's plans and Matchmaker was awarded the contract
for Courts 3 & 4. Unfortunately the workmanship fell well short of an acceptable
standard, and only after terse negotiations and legal guidance from Elizabeth
Scannell were the courts finally accepted in the autumn. Court 9 was given up in
return for the construction of a wall between Courts 1 & 2 and the enlarged carpark.
It soon became apparent that the All Weather surface had some unattractive
features - uncertain foothold when damp, quick deterioration of tennis balls
and heavy jarring to players' legs and knees. Other clubs had moved to synthetic
grass surfaces and had found that their members considered them as the best
year-round surface. In 1988 the committee began evaluating this surface, finding
that converting All Weather courts would cost £10,000 approx per court. At the
beginning of 1989, members were asked to consider John Twyford's financing
projections with a view to starting the changeover in the autumn or the following
spring. At the November AGM it was agreed unanimously to go ahead with Courts
1 & 2.
The 5th June 1989 saw the start of the Essex Closed Veteran's Tournament, staged
at the Club. Bryan Cosgrove had recognised a gap in the ECLTA programme and
organised the event. A measure of sponsorship was obtained and the Veterans'
LTA of Great Britain donated £200. Bryan reported that it 'had been successful',
leaving the Club with a £540 profit, and it was agreed to stage it again the
following year. Unfortunately player support dropped away, and with only
reduced sponsorship available in 1992, it was decided it could not be continued
for a third time.
The change from All Weather to Synthetic Grass on Courts 1 & 2 was started
on Monday 5th March 1990, and the Treasurer indicated that the Club's finances
would allow Courts 3 & 4 to be similarly improved two years later. The growth
in the Club's match programme was such that at the November AGM it was
agreed to split the Match Secretary's workload and have separate Mid-week
and Weekend Secretaries. At the same time the rules were changed so that
committee members' responsibilities were determined at the time of their
election at an AGM. Match results for 1990 were 'amongst the best of all time.'