The Gandhinagar area, a southern suburb of Chennai with more than 150 years of history, became a desirable destination to “lawyers, doctors, chartered accountants and other professionals” at around 1955. As the community grew, the need for a club was felt. An area that was set apart for sporting activities was leased by the newly formed Gandhinagar Club from 1st July 1956 for 99 years. The actual lease agreement was signed on 18th February 1959 between the club and Gandhinagar Cooperative House Construction Society.
For close to 35 years out of 55 years of its existence, the Gandhinagar club has just been a tennis club. Today it has grown into a full-fledged club, with the facilities and activities comparable to any other club in Madras. Located on 4th Main Road, Gandhinagar, south of the river Adyar, it enjoys an excellent location.
After the club was formed, tennis was taken up in 1960, with the laying of two courts. It was played under thatched roofs and temporary structures until 1991 when a full-fledged renovation project was taken up. Justice K.Veerasamy was the first President of the Club. With no efforts being taken to widen the scope of the activities, the club stagnated until B.R.Adityan, a long standing president and a patron of the club, joined in 1961. As a youngster then, he took keen interest in reviving tennis as a major activity of the club. He was also one of the initial promoters of Tamil daily ‘Dina Thanthi’ and TamilNad Mercentile Bank.
Even with his contributions, the club barely managed to maintain the tennis courts. The staging of Cho Ramaswamy’s play “Mohammed-Bin-Tughlak” in 1969 raised a sum of over Rs. 50,000 and brought an end to this lean period. Renovation activities at the club house were taken up and water facilities were improved.
B.R.Adityan was elected President. The clubs fortunes fluctuated between good and bad in the 1970s. Kannan, an enthusiastic member, opened a gymnasium and ran it successfully for a while. But the club ran into difficulties again. Members such as Viswanathan who was secretary for some time, the Wilson brothers, Cornelius and his sons Jasper and Jacinth who were excellent tennis players, all tried to arrest the downward slide. The club got a new lease of life with the involvement of 4 people called Jagadeesan, Gandhi, Muthaiya and Ramanathan. Youngsters took to the club; in addition to tennis, table tennis soon became a regular sport.
With the tennis fever catching up the 80’s and the club stable enough and well established, a third tennis court was laid. By the late 1980s it was considered a priority to change the course of club from being just a tennis club to one that would cater to the needs of a wide section of residents. The need to improve the infrastructure of the club became all the more important. At the Annual General Meeting in 1980, major decisions were taken and a roadmap for renovation and improvement was drawn. One more tennis court was added and the club house was completely renovated. 44 members became the first resident members by paying Rs. 5000 towards development of the club.
As more residents were interested in getting inducted as members, the entrance fee was increased to Rs.10,000 in 1991 and to Rs.1,00,000 in stages. Corporate memberships, memberships for eminent sportspersons, jurists and civil servants were introduced. A swimming pool, a squash court, billiards and pool tables, an indoor badminton court, a table tennis facility, cards room and gymnasium were added. Of late the club is even playing host to ITF circuit tennis tournaments. The first general committee was formed in May 1992, with 14 members and it continues to be the highest decision making body.
Though a late entrant into the city’s club circles, the Gandhinagar club has managed to reach a level on par with other clubs of Madras in relatively quick time. With the club’s deposit amount exceeding the ten core mark, it has turned into one of the most cash rich clubs in the city.
- Sudarshan N