A DIGGER stands for the moment where the net will be in the enclosed, intimate theatre for 5500 spectators underneath synthetic sails.
A workman has marked out in the dirt the baselines and sidelines inside which generations of Queensland kids will want to take their first serious steps towards tennis greatness.
"It's been seven years of work to get to where we are, but it's going to be worth it," said Tennis Queensland president Ashley Cooper, who managed a quick visit this week before he flew out to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his Wimbledon win.
"I hadn't been to the centre court since the fabric went on. It's really going to be intimate. There won't be a bad seat in the place.
"For atmosphere, the Wimbledon centre court sticks out among courts in world tennis. But this court is going to be unique - there's nothing like it with its roof."
The stadium will be covered by a waterproofed, sun-resistant material, polytetrafluoroethylene. At the end of the month work will have started on putting down the bitumen in preparation for the plexicushion courts which will make up 17 of the centre's 23 courts.
There's a sense of space that will enhance the relaxed atmosphere organisers want players and patrons to feel at the Brisbane International, which will officially open the centre from January 4-10.
Tennis Queensland asked the state government last year to name the centre court after one former great Queensland player and the tennis centre after a second player.
It is expected Pat Rafter will be one of the two players honoured
if the government elects not to seek corporate naming rights sponsorship.
For two weeks each year, the Tennyson centre will be home for the combined men's and women's event created when Tennis Australia merged its Adelaide men's tournament with its Gold Coast women's event.
For the other 50 weeks, it will be the base for Queensland's elite tennis academy, also offering tennis on each of the sport's three Grand Slam surfaces to hirers.
"The development of the stadium is totally on track and we expect to get the keys before (the scheduled handover date of) December 1," tournament director Steve Ayles said.
"Queensland can now not only host a major men's and women's event, but also bid for Davis and Fed Cup ties and potentially a Legends event."
The balcony of the players' area offers city views beyond the tree-lined river banks.
"It's going to be a wonderful centre which provides a focal point through the rest of the year for training of our best young players. Every kid interested in tennis will want to play there," Cooper said.
The sport also needs the impetus from a series of successful Brisbane Internationals, the first of which will offer more than $1 million in player remuneration in the first week of the Australian Open series month.
The event will have to attract sufficient numbers to stop the post-Christmas defection of Brisbane sports fans to the coast, a challenge the previous Milton women's tournament could not overcome.
Ayles says it will do this by offering more than tennis. "We will execute the same strategy the Australian Open has, which is to get as many people as possible interested in tennis," he said.
"We will get top-10 players and have a lot of depth in the fields because they can play on the same surface as the Australian Open, with the same ball, in the same time zone, a similar climate."
It helps that a local tournament is finally off its one-day-an-event television ration afforded the Gold Coast event. Channel 7 will telecast 36 hours of the inaugural Brisbane International, which will have two twilight finals - the women's final on Friday and the men's decider on Saturday.
Ayles contests the point that the tournament will hinge on the strength of its fields in the first few years.
"I'm very confident we will get top-10 players," he said.
Last week, three large cranes continued work on the 390 apartments in six buildings - the developmental component that made Cooper's tennis centre dream fly - on the site of a former power station on the south bank of the Brisbane River.
It's a beautiful twist that Brisbane's real estate clamour has given the financial means for the state government to provide the land for a tennis centre, 15 years after Milton hosted its last international event.
In 2001, former TQ president Maurice Philp asked Cooper to join a committee to look at how to arrest the loss of more than 200 tennis courts over the previous 15 years due to real estate sales to developers.
"Over the last seven years it would have been well over 100 meetings I've been to about getting a new state centre. There's been a hell of a lot lately," Cooper said with a smile.