Mak­ing a racket

Ex­plo­sion of tennis play­ers has de­mand peak­ing at semi-pri­vate Toronto clubs

Bayview Post - - News - KAREN STINTZ

This year Rogers Cup was par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing when Rich­mond Hill na­tive De­nis Shapo­valov up­set the tennis world by beat­ing Rafael Nadal to ad­vance to the quar­ter fi­nals. Cue a youth move­ment at lo­cal clubs. The trou­ble is that there is no room.

The North Toronto Tennis Club has had to turn away mem­bers. Over the last two years alone, more than 500 res­i­dents un­suc­cess­fully tried to join be­cause the club was at ca­pac­ity. In re­sponse to this de­mand, the club wants to turn one of the two un­der­uti­lized lawn bowling greens into two clay tennis courts.

One lawn bowling green would re­main for the 25-mem­ber club, but the cur­rent lawn bowling club­house would be for the new tennis courts.

The project is am­bi­tious as two clay courts and fenc­ing will cost over $150,000. The funds for the new courts will be raised by the com­mu­nity and through in­creased mem­ber­ship.

As with any semi-pri­vate club that is op­er­at­ing out of a city fa­cil­ity, one of the chal­lenges for both the city and the club will be how much time is al­lo­cated to the gen­eral public.

Ap­prox­i­mately 40 per cent of the city tennis courts are op­er­ated by not-for-profit tennis clubs, and there are ap­prox­i­mately 22,000 res­i­dents across the city that pay for mem­ber­ships.

Th­ese clubs are ben­e­fi­cial as the mem­ber­ship fees off­set some of the main­te­nance costs. In ad­di­tion, the clubs con­trol sched­ul­ing, run leagues and host round robins.

How­ever, even the semi-pri­vate clubs are sub­ject to the city’s rules and reg­u­la­tions. All of the tennis courts that are run by a club are re­quired to pro­vide at least six hours of play per week to the gen­eral public free of charge, but the tennis club de­cides how those hours will be al­lo­cated.

The North Toronto club makes courts avail­able to the public on Sun­days from 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Wan­less Park Tennis club, also at ca­pac­ity, has public hours on Fri­day, Satur­day and Sun­day from 9:00 p.m. to 11 p.m.

In the vicin­ity, there are also the city-run tennis courts at Ot­ter Creek, the North Toronto com­mu­nity cen­tre and June Row­lands Park that are com­pletely open to the public.

Given the choice, most would pre­fer to play on the courts op­er­ated by the tennis clubs. They are bet­ter main­tained, the sur­face is nicer and the nets are bet­ter in ad­di­tion to so­cial ben­e­fits that clubs can pro­vide.

Given the suc­cess of Cana­dian tennis play­ers, the sport will likely con­tinue to be pop­u­lar for many years to come. Karen Stintz is a for­mer city coun­cil­lor, elected in 2003, and was a chair of the TTC. She lives in Ward 16 with her fam­ily.

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