THE Oxford dictionary definition of tennis is, a game in which two or four players strike a ball with racquets over a net stretched across a court.
But for the Derby Tennis Club, it is more than that.
It is community.
It is family.
It is tradition.
If you blink you might miss the Derby tennis courts when you drive by.
Situated next to the historic Derby Hall the tennis courts are surrounded by tall, leafy trees.
Chicken wire is in place to block any unwanted visitors and the old rusted scoreboard, which has seen its fair share of matches, sits on the side of the court.
The Derby Tennis Club began after World War Two.
Since then the sports club has been the heart and soul of the small town, which is situated half way between Marong and Bridgewater.
The Pollock family are local legends.
Three generations of the family have taken to the court, serving up winners for more than 50 years.
Robyn Pollock, mother of four and grandmother to nine, began playing tennis at Derby during the 1969/70 season.
She was still playing the sport up until five years ago when she injured her shoulder.
“I played tennis in Laanecoorie, I got married, came over to Derby and kept playing,” Robyn said.
“I even played when I was pregnant.”
Robyn’s husband of 44 years, Robert, is a local legend when it comes to tennis.
“Robert has played since he was about nine years old; he is now 67 years old,” she said.
“He had one season off, when he had both his hips done but other than that he still plays.”
“He played with his father and grandfather.”
When the Derby Tennis Club was first created, it played in the Inglewood Association before joining the Marong and District Tennis Association.
Robert said the club didn’t have much success in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
“From 1991 Derby has won six premierships and been runners up four times and has only missed playing finals twice since 1990,” he said.
Currently the club has about 50 members.
Robyn said every year the club didn’t think it will be able to form a team for the season, but every year they do.
“We just keep on going,” she said.
“Somebody always knows somebody that wants to play.
“We have local families, we are probably the biggest family that plays, then we have mothers and daughters and the other friends.
“Robert and I and the four kids, my son-in-law played and four of my grandkids play in the C grade.”
Robyn said Derby once used to be a thriving town full of people.
“Back in the old days Derby used to be quite a big place but like all country towns they die,” she said.
“The young ones leave but we have just kept it up and kept on playing.”
Robyn’s daughter Donna Normoyle said the Derby tennis courts were the town’s identity.
“Once upon a time there used to be a school and a train station and the only thing left now is the tennis courts,” she said.
“There is a hall but that is on its last legs.
“The only thing left is the tennis club.”
Donna said she was born into tennis, she says it is what she has always known.
“You might move away and come back but it has always been what we have known,” she said.
“It has been what we have always played; it has been a part of the way we grew up.
“There is a social part to it but it is also about family.”
Robyn agreed saying the club wasn’t just created for tennis it was created to offer the people of Derby a place to come together.
“It is not just about tennis it is about community,” she said.
“You don’t just go there to play tennis and then go home you go and relax and have a good time.
“It is a social outing.
“I go down each week and just talk.”
Donna said one of the best things about tennis was that whether you were young, old, small or tall you could pick up a racquet and learn how to play.
“Tennis is one of those sports you can play at any age,” she said.
“It is not like football; netball and even hockey were they all have a limited life span.
“Whereas tennis is different people of all abilities can play.”
Donna said the Derby Tennis Club has a long and proud history.
She said having the chance to show her children what the club meant to her was a special thing.
“It is something that was instilled in us but it is also something you want to instil in your children,” Donna said.
“That everything is not necessarily electronic in your hand or something you drive and buy.
“There is something about family, about community, about giving back.
“It is not all about what you can do for yourself it is about playing and being with your family and friends.”
The club is now looking to re-surface its aging courts to help continue the Derby Tennis Club’s legacy.