Game, set, match

Players could be serving up aces at Red Deer’s new indoor tennis centre as early as next week.

Players could be serving up aces at Red Deer’s new indoor tennis centre as early as next week.

City council unanimously endorsed an agreement on Tuesday allowing the Red Deer Tennis Club to operate its indoor tennis bubble on city land.

As part of the deal, the club must remove it by Aug. 11, 2013.

The $650,000 air-supported structure was installed recently over the south four tennis courts at 4402 47th Ave.

The domed structure could open early next week once the handicapped-accessible area is finished and final inspections are done. The bubble runs 36 metres wide by 60 metres long, and nearly 11 metres high.

Councillor Cindy Jefferies called it a “dream come true” for the tennis club, adding the bubble will be a great addition for the community.

Mark Jones, chairman of the club’s building fund, said it was an outstanding day for the club.

“It allows people to play the sport all year-round in what we consider to be a world-class facility,” said Jones outside council chambers.

“We start our actual program on October 1 when our outdoor season ends,” Jones said.

The summer programs have attracted more than 200 members.

“Within the next 24 months, we hope to double that capacity and continue to build it from there,” Jones said.

Calgary and Edmonton both have bubbles with six courts.

Jones said the tennis club wanted its complex to be spacious, plus have a large observation area where parents could watch their children play.

The tennis club has hosted a number of tournaments, including provincials for juniors.

Jones said Tennis Alberta plans to use Red Deer’s dome for its high-performance athletes. As well, the club will host a minimum of six tournaments over the winter.

The club raised money through government grants, donations and through its membership

The city also supports the tennis club by providing landscaping, court resurfacing and fencing, Jones added.

Jones said the tennis club another group, which he didn’t name, plans to buy the dome once the agreement with the city ends in 2013.

“The hope was to have a bubble open last year, and have it going for five seasons. Then with an economic downturn, we lost a year out of that,” Jones said.

The tennis club hopes to one day have a permanent indoor facility in the area known as Rotary Recreation Park. The city is working with consultants on devising a recreational facility plan for the area, which includes the tennis courts, Red Deer Arena and Kinex Arena.

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