In the years after the Second World War, tennis grew in popularity and lost some of its elitist associations. As a result of membership drives by the New Zealand Lawn Tennis Association and tennis clubs, membership numbers rose. By the end of the 1960s there were over 47,000 registered tennis players.
Under the administration of the association’s chairman, Ian Wells, the number of registered players reached a peak of 61,000 in 1983. However, membership numbers dropped from this point. In 2011 there were 39,000 registered players.
The Post and Telegraph building (now apartments) on Wellington’s waterfront was built in 1939, complete with two tennis courts on the roof for staff. The courts were relatively short-lived though – they were removed when an extra storey was added in 1943.
According to the 2007/08 Active New Zealand Survey, 9.3% of New Zealand adults (304,000 people) played tennis at least once in a 12-month period. Compared with registered player figures, this showed that most people played recreationally and did not belong to clubs.
New Zealand’s major tennis facilities were upgraded in the 1980s. Wilding Park in Christchurch, Stanley Street (now the ASB Centre) in Auckland and Central Park (now the Renouf Centre) in Wellington were all substantially modernised. Wellington had hosted major international events alongside Auckland, but as New Zealand’s standing in the tennis world declined, sponsorship became harder to find and these events were discontinued.
In 2011 there were 431 tennis clubs in New Zealand.