Tennis Canada junior development program a smashing success
Vernon Tennis Association partnered with Predator Ridge for three-month program.
The first season of indoor junior tennis at the Predator Ridge Tennis and Pickleball Club was a real hit.
The Vernon Tennis Association (VTA) partnered with Predator Ridge to run a Tennis Canada developmental program that began in September and ran until Dec. 14. The program is for players aged six to 17.
“I am amazed how quickly the players develop with this program,” said coach Graham Cooper. “Many of these youngsters only started playing tennis this year.”
Tennis enthusiasts will now have a well-lit place to play and keep warm next winter.
With support from the Province of BC, the City of Richmond and its membership, the
Richmond Tennis Club will be replacing its 28-year-old bubble in the fall of 2020. It will provide access to indoor tennis during the winter months for members, the public at large, wheelchair athletes and youth in the community.
Historically, Canada hasn’t exactly been known for its tennis cred. If you thought to name Canada’s Top Ten Sports, tennis probably wouldn’t have made the list - even after naming hockey, lacrosse, baseball, skiing and ice fishing.
But things are changing fast.
Tennis now ranks as the 8th most-played sport in the country, with 6.6 million Canadians hitting the courts last year. The number of frequent plays (meaning people playing four or more times over 12 months) has risen 36%. What’s more, the rise in tennis participation among young Canadians is even stronger, with over 510,000 kids between 6 and 11 taking up the racquet.
Not to mention the growing list of young Canadian tennis superstars like Dennis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassme and Bianca Andreescu. The future of tennis in this country - both professionally and recreationally - looks brighter than ever.
There’s just one little problem: winter. To be specific, it’s the bone-chilling, bus-cancelling, 30ᵒ-below-freezing-style winters we get here in Canada.
Despite popular belief, it’s not impossible to play tennis outdoors in the winter. For tennis diehards, it could even present a bit of a fun challenge. However, most municipalities don’t maintain their outdoor courts in the winter, and the supply of indoor tennis courts is seriously lacking.
Of the 7,500 tennis courts open for use in the warmer months, only 10% get covered with an air dome during the winter. That’s only one covered tennis court for every 50,000 Canadians...and 85% of those courts are in either Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver.
Why are there so few? The CEO of Tennis Canada, Michael Downey, put it best. “We’re fighting this perception that tennis is a summer sport,” he says in an interview with the Globe and Mail.
That perception might’ve been true once, but times have changed, and 51% of Canadians now say they would play more tennis if they had access to convenient and affordable covered courts nearby.
Michael continues, “Many municipalities aren’t thinking about tennis in the winters – they just think ‘yeah we’ve got some courts, people use them in the summers.’ So we have to change that mindset.”
Cost is another major factor, according to Michael and Tennis Canada. Brick and mortar tennis facilities cost millions of dollars to build, so they’re a tough sell to municipalities.
The good news is, there’s an easier and much more affordable option out there, and Tennis Canada has made it a mission to get municipalities on board. In fact, they’re planning to hit the road and visited 50 cities and towns (armed with a hundred pages of information) to spread the word about a cost-effective way to provide year-round tennis.
As you might have guessed, we’re talking about air-supported domes!
Inflatable domes (also known as ‘bubbles’, which is the term used by Tennis Canada) are incredibly versatile. They can be used to cover tennis courts, soccer fields, or any number of other field sports. We’ve also seen municipalities use them for other community spaces, like gyms, party venues and swimming pools. Just about anything you do outdoors can be done under a dome!
Domes can be permanent or temporary. You could have a year-round tennis bubble that offers air-conditioned play in the summer and warmth in the winter - or, a seasonal dome that covers the court only from fall to spring.
You might wonder what it’s like to play tennis in a bubble. It’s hardly any different from playing on a regular court - the only point of interest is that domes will offer a cooler playing temperature in the summer (since they’re climate-controlled), which can cause the ball to bounce a bit slower. Fortunately, this isn’t a major adjustment and most players can adapt their game quickly!
As for the height of the bubble? Not a problem, unless your game involves hitting the ball dozens of feet in the air and having it rain down on your opponents! You won’t ever have to worry about scraping the ceiling.
Once people see what’s possible with a dome - along with the skyrocketing interest in tennis - we’re confident that more and more municipalities will get on board with building a tennis bubble of their own.
It’s exciting to see Tennis Canada take an active role in promoting the cause across the country. We wish them the very best of luck and our full support!
We’ll leave it at that for now, but don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to learn more about what air-supported structures can do!
(Victoria, BC – October 27, 2018) The newest and best place to play tennis on Vancouver Island is opening its doors for the indoor season. The Bear Mountain Tennis Centre and Director of Tennis Russ Hartley welcomes members of the public and all tennis enthusiasts to be the guests and experience the Resort’s brand new four-court tennis bubble from 12 noon to 6 PM on Saturday, October 27th.
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, winter sports like skiing and ice hockey are just as beloved as field sports. But not everyone is eager to switch out the cleats for snowshoes come fall. Good news: there are plenty of awesome summer sports you probably didn’t know you could play in the winter!
1. Beach Volleyball
Who says you need a beach to play beach volleyball? Although the game may have originated as a summer pastime, it has evolved into a sanctioned Olympic sport practiced by serious athletes.
There are now indoor beach volleyball facilities (sand and all) built for year-round play. Sports domes like the Volleydome in Calgary boast courts for traditional indoor volleyball and the two-on-two beach game.
A little snow on the ground isn’t enough to stop the world’s game. With the right gear, it is possible to play soccer in the wintertime.
Of course, the game changes quite a bit when the green turns to white, and not necessarily for the better. The ball skips and glides across the snowy pitch with ease but is much harder to keep in control. The low-friction playing surface also puts players at risk of injury.
Playing soccer outdoors in the cold isn’t ideal unless the season runs long or winter comes early. Fortunately, there’s an alternative: the soccer dome.
Failing that, there are plenty of soccer drills you can practice almost anywhere, with or without a soccer dome.
Why play a sport associated with short shorts and miniskirts in the winter?
Because it’s surprisingly awesome.
Tennis becomes a whole different game when the temperature drops, demanding a new playstyle and tweaks to your equipment. It’s a great challenge for seasoned tennis players who want to try something new.
Just be sure to dress for the weather with a moisture-wicking base layer and lots of insulating layers on top.
Believe it or not, there are lots of ways to experience the joys of cycling in the winter.
If you’re brave enough to venture outdoors, it’s possible to outfit your regular commuter bicycle to tackle the slippery roads ahead. However, it does require some extra maintenance; MEC recommends that you wipe down the chain after every ride, apply lube to the chain at least three times a month, and spray aerosol lube on all the moving parts once another.
Winter mountain biking is another option. This heart-pounding winter sport is one of the best ways to soak in the breathtaking snow-covered wilderness.
For cyclists who prefer to stay warm, there’s track cycling, a lesser-known Olympic event that provides an incredible workout and a great show for spectators. Thanks to air-supported structures like the Team USA Velodrome, you can pick up this sport at any time of year.
5. Ultimate Frisbee
It might not have made the Olympics yet, but Ultimate Frisbee has been soaring in popularity ever since its inception in the 1960s. It’s become a favourite of college students and rec leagues around North America.
Trouble is, it’s not easy to catch and throw a plastic disc with mittens on.
That’s why we’re excited to see more and more Ultimate Frisbee leagues making use of indoor facilities like sports domes. Hopefully, there will come a day when frisbee domes are as ubiquitous as soccer domes!