JIM Elphick will forever be fondly remembered as Wagga's 'Mr Tennis' after passing away after a short illness over the weekend.
The inaugural and long-time Wagga Wagga Tennis Association (WWTA) president left a lasting impression on the sport in the region, with the association's Bolton Park facility deservedly re-named in his honour exactly 19 years ago today on November 11, 2000.
Elphick passed away aged 99 on Saturday, just eight weeks short of his 100th birthday. He was WWTA president for 26 years from 1971, when the Half Holiday and Lawn tennis clubs almagated at their Bolton Park site.
Grandson Chris Elphick said Jim devoted a huge portion of his life to the game he loved, his passion for it bettered only by his love for late wife Mavis and his three late sons.
"He was a remarkable, honest, easy-going man," Chris said.
"He would help anyone and give the shirt off his back to you if you needed it, there's nothing he wouldn't do to help out family and friends.
"The tennis centre would be where it is today without him. He loved tennis and lived for it.
"He was a pretty handy player and was always running tournaments and was heavily involved in junior tennis, that was his passion.
Elphick's contribution to tennis was officially recognised when he was given a plaque on Wagga's Walk of Honour as part of the city's 2017 Australia Day awards.
"That was the crowning moment, it topped it off for him," Chris said.
Born in Adelong, Elphick served as a tank commander in World War Two. He wrote a book, '100 Years of Tennis in Wagga, 1889-1989)' and served on Wagga Council's sports facilities committee, where he was influential in attaining grants for the development of courts.
Lifelong friend and a former Wagga Tennis Association under Elphick's tenure, John Ferguson, said the he worked tirelessly for Riverina tennis.
"I've known him since the mid seventies and he was instrumental in getting the Bolton Park Tennis Complex started (in the mid seventies," Ferguson said.
"He was a very gentle person. He had extremely good interpersonal skills with people, was a thorough gentlemen and he was always doing what he thought was best for the members of the various tennis clubs across the region.
"He just didn't do it for Bolton Park, he was on the sports facilities committee at Wagga Council and he was very influential in getting grants to develop suburban courts.
"He didn't see it as a centralised sport, he also looked after the smaller clubs around the region.
"Jim enjoyed gardening and always used to produce the best tomatoes around the place. We've got roses in the front garden we just used to call Jim and Mavis' roses.
"It's a great testament to Jim that his book will be there for everyone to see for years to come.
"He's definitely an ornament in tennis, not only in Wagga but highly regarded throughout NSW."
The funeral will be held on Tuesday next week.