Chatham-Kent will see $200,000 added to funds raised for tennis courts planned throughout the year.
The money comes from Tennis Canada and Rogers' year-round community tennis courts program. Six municipalities have been selected to split a $1.2 million investment to develop indoor tennis courts.
“This funding helps bring the Tennis Dome to our growing community and will provide another great place for Chatham-Kent residents to have fun, learn new skills and live healthier, more active lifestyles,” said the Mayor of Chatham-Kent.
Mark Chapados, a local teacher and part-time tennis coach, said the vision for the domed tennis courts, which will be part of a 20-acre park at Bear Line Road and McNaughton Avenue, is starting to take shape and has been a year in the making.
“We started [fundraising] “Four or five years ago,” he said of himself and his wife, Stephanie. “Seeing the ad today was like, 'Wow!'” He added, “We're there now.”
At first, the Chapados duo did a lot of fundraising on their own.
“We've had some camps that have been successful. We've had good support there. In fact when Canadian tennis clubs joined, we came out on top,” Mark said. “This is a great partnership between Canadian Tennis Clubs, Rogers, Tennis Canada and our municipality.”
The year-round community tennis courts program is in its third year and has already made a significant impact across the country. Tennis Canada said previously completed projects have provided 4.1 million Canadians with year-round access to tennis. Adding that each of these clubs witnessed a significant increase in winter stadium reservations and membership registrations during the new indoor seasons.
“Tennis is a sport that is growing nationally, especially for young people… It is a very healthy sport, it is very active, and it is a safe sport,” Chapados explained, explaining the reasons why it is important to see more access to tennis in the community. Currently, anyone looking to spend time at the stadiums in the winter months has to drive at least an hour, to London or Windsor.
“We have five high school tennis teams [in Chatham-Kent]“They have to compete with teams that have year-round access,” he added.
Grounds for the year-round domed courts, including two courts ready for pickleball, are expected to be built next month.
“We have already made contact with a lot of community groups that want to hold team building sessions and activities,” Chapados said. “We would really like to see it as a community asset that everyone can get behind.”
Anyone interested in booking spring and summer classes or team building activities can call 289-879-4600 or visit the website Tennisclubs.ca.