Tennis club gets a dome

The Red Deer Tennis Club will have a roof over its head in August.

The Red Deer Tennis Club will have a roof over its head in August.

The long-awaited dome, which will enable locals to play year-round, will be installed over four days in mid-August, fundraising chairman Mark Jones said Tuesday during a press conference to announce that Servus Credit Union has donated $20,000 towards the $600,000 project.

The dome will cover four of the facility’s 10 courts.

“The four south courts will be covered,” said Jones, adding that the support structure “is ready to go.”

“Now we just have to wait for the bubble to show up and then it will take four days to erect it.

“By Aug. 18 or 19, we should be playing indoor tennis in Red Deer.”

The ability to smack tennis balls indoors will play a large role in developing the skills of the club’s up-and-coming junior players, said Jones, who’s confident the sport’s popularity will bloom within Red Deer with the addition of the dome.

“Historically, what has happened is that anybody who has had a bubble just continues to build and brings people in and then the tennis population just seem to grow exponentially over time,” he said.

“The first year, people don’t know it’s there, but the more you get out into the schools and into community at large, the faster the sport grows.”

Down the road, the increased popularity among the populace will hopefully allow the tennis club to move to the site and building currently occupied by the Red Deer Curling Centre, which will relocate within the next two years.

Tennis Alberta has already targeted Red Deer as a site for fall and winter high-performance training events that have been held exclusively in Edmonton and Calgary.

“Kids wanting to attend high-performance clinics in the winter had to go to the big cities,” said Jones.

“Now, Tennis Alberta will use our facility as a training centre and will have all their high-performance kids come in for Friday and Saturday sessions. This facility will be used as a hub.”

The Red Deer Tennis Club’s oldest players will also benefit from the new addition.

“Our seniors are currently playing (indoor) tennis at the Collicutt Centre and that’s not a proper surface,” said Jones.

“The lines are right, but the courts are really fast. The seniors will get a new opportunity here and they’ll get their designated time.”

Frans Badenhorst, a club member and Notre Dame student who competed in Tuesday’s Central Alberta high school championship in Red Deer, will welcome the bubble.

“It will be amazing. During the winter we usually lose a lot of our game unless we go to Calgary and Edmonton to play indoor tennis,” he said.

“Basically, this will allow us to practise more and further our skills and our techniques. More practice makes perfect.”

Fund-raising for the new dome is ongoing, Jones said.

“The downturn in the economy has hurt us a bit, but we don’t need people to give huge amounts of money,” he said.

“If we had 200 businesses give us $1,000 each we’d be laughing.

It would be great to have large donations, but right now we’re happy to have anyone support our project.

“We’ll give them the recognition and go from there.”

Rob Stryker, vice-president of retail banking for Servus Credit Union, said the tennis club is a good fit for the financial institution.

“The nice about this is it will be a year-round sport, so to us it’s a huge opportunity to get involved. When they have tournaments here, we can be involved with sponsoring those, as well.”

Contact Greg Meachem at gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com

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