FOR local woman Christine Foster, the important things in life are her family, her friends, the Tenterfield community and, of course, playing a game of tennis.
When I met her last week, she had just come back from a day on the courts at Deepwater.
On the way home, Christine and a friend were devising new ways of raising money to help the Tenterfield Tennis Club install new synthetic courts.
At the moment, local players have to make do with three very old, very hard courts and Christine believes the tough surfaces are turning some of the younger players away.
“There seems to be a couple of generations [of tennis players] missing and I think a lot of them don’t like playing on the harder courts,” she says
“Tennis is a game where you don’t just play against people your own age you play against people of all ages and from all parts of the community.
“You can play really hard if you want to or you can just have fun with it, it doesn’t really matter.”
As current president of the club, fundraising ideas are front and centre for Christine at the moment.
The synthetic courts cost $80,000, half of which is being covered by NSW Sport and Recreation which means the local club need to raise a whopping $40,000.
“We [now] need to raise about $25,000…we’ve got a wood raffle planned and we run the canteen at the saleyards, but if there are any ex-tennis players out there who have got a good fundraising idea we would love to hear from them.”
Christine says attracting some younger players is the club’s biggest challenge, a problem that did not exist 40 years ago when she was growing up in Tenterfield.
As the second eldest of six children, she says playing sport and being able to hold your own in any competition was a big part of being in the Grogan family.
“We were a very active and physical family and even though we lived in town we had a very country upbringing. We all had horses and were in pony club, we played tennis, hockey, basketball, athletics, whatever sport was going at the time we got involved,” she explains.
Spending so much time on the sporting field did take its toll on other parts of Christine’s life, particularly her school work.
“I was a pretty average student and I remember Ray Curry when I went to pick up my results at the end of year 10… just shook his head at me and said, ‘imagine if you’d worked, Christine’.
“It really hit home to me then… but it did give me a belief that I could achieve if I put my mind to it… so even though I didn’t go all the way through to year 12 I still had a lot of opportunities.”
Christine has made the most of everything that has come her way, first taking up a job at the Tenterfield Tourist Information centre booking plane and bus tickets before moving on to a job at the old Rural Bank.
Nowadays she works part-time as an assistant manager at the School of Arts and is also secretary of Rotary.
In 1974, she married local boy Stephen Foster. The pair have three sons and four – “nearly five” - grandchildren.
Once married, Christine and Stephen moved to Newcastle where Stephen took up a job as a technician in telecommunications.
Living in a bigger city with two young boys and with Stephen often travelling to Sydney and interstate was a big learning experience for Christine.
She says it was hard at first to settle into such a new lifestyle.
“When you move to a new place I have always found that the friendliest and most welcoming people are those that have moved themselves,” she says.
“When you’ve lived in a place like Tenterfield, grown up here and gone to school and socialised with the same people you don’t need to learn how to make friends but when you’re new to a place it is very different.
“Now I always try and make new people feel welcome because, well I know what it is like.”
After living in Newcastle for four years, the family moved to Brisbane so Stephen could take up a job with Queensland Police while Christine continued to work in banking and run around after the boys.
Their youngest son Nicholas was born in Brisbane in 1982.
Despite living in the city, Christine says her three children were still very aware of their country roots and would come back to Tenterfield to visit both sets of grandparents each holiday.
Eventually, Christine and Stephen made the decision to move back to town with plans to start up their own business. The pair bought 12 acres on Rouse Street right in the middle of town where they later planted 600-chestnut trees which they harvest and sell to wholesalers in Queensland each April.
While Christine says the orchard is hard work, the peace she finds strolling under the trees in the late afternoon is priceless.
“I love living in Tenterfield because there are no traffic lights, no roundabouts, I can walk to work I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
“At the School of Arts, we get a lot of tourists through and they are always remarking on how friendly the town is, how everyone is smiling and I think that is very unique... it makes you feel good to be part of it.”