VANDALS torched a bench at Henley Tennis Club that had been in place for just a few weeks.
Head coach Colin Main was teaching Nick Hay last Friday morning when he noticed the bench was missing from the courts off Tilebarn Close.
He then spotted it in the nearby Henley College sports fields with a large burn hole in the middle of it. About 10 empty bottles of alcohol were found nearby.
The £300 bench was one of two that were bought by the club and installed in August.
They were both secured to a 2.5m high wire mesh fence that runs around the courts with a padlock and the courts are protected with a combination lock on the gate.
Mr Main, 52, from Shiplake Cross, said it looked like someone had forced their hand through a loose part of the fence to open the gate from the other side.
He said: ?I just don?t understand why someone would take someone else?s property and destroy it. It?s just thoughtless. To get the bench off the padlock and wire someone must have had to really pull it.
?I understand the club has had issues in the past. We?re going to have to look at CCTV and other security measures.?
Mr Main, who became head coach two years ago, said: ?I wanted to put the benches outside the courts so parents could watch their kids play. Everyone has said to me how great it has been to have the bench to sit on when there are people on a court.?
Mr Hay, 49, of St Andrew?s Road, Henley, said ?I think what?s happened is sad and makes the world a lesser place. It makes the tennis club feel a more hostile and less friendly place. It should not be like that. Only the other evening we were sitting on the benches and it was lovely to be able to sit and watch each other play.?
Mr Hay had been at the club until 7.30pm the previous evening working on his game. He said he hadn?t noticed anyone else around the club when he left.
Mr Hay added: ?I?ve not known any trouble here ? it?s probably just one or two bad apples.?
Mr Main said: ?I?ve put together lots of coaching programmes to get people in and we?ve gone from about 130 members to 300.
?We?re losing money we?ve invested in the club. We want to try to get floodlights and new fences to make the courts more secure.?
A police spokeswoman said: ?We are investigating an incident of arson. We received reports of a bench taken from the tennis club between 7.30pm on September 17 and 9am on September 18.
?We would like to speak to anyone who saw anything out of the ordinary at that time. Anyone with any information should contact police as soon as possible on 101.?