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Tennis community excited for Bear Mountain Centre

Posted on February 14, 2017

by Joel Tansey – Goldstream News Gazette
Langford posted Feb 12, 2017 at 10:00 AM


The West Shore already boasts a sizeable tennis community, but the sport’s landscape will change dramatically with the soon-to-be-built, eight-court indoor/outdoor red clay tennis centre at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa, the largest such facility in Western Canada.

Sue Grandmaison, president of the Langford Tennis Club, was one of the first to sign up for a founding membership at the new centre.

“It’s (a) very vibrant and active (community),” she said of the local scene. “We have a large tennis club with over 100 members … and there’s more and more moving out here.” The social aspects of the club make it about more than just tennis, she added.

Grandmaison doesn’t see the addition of Bear Mountain’s facility as a threat to the existing club, which plays out of the Royal Roads courts. If anything, it’s a boon for members, who would previously have to travel to the Panorama Recreation Centre in North Saanich, or Oak Bay for winter tennis.

“I hope to work together with Bear Mountain so that we can have a great partnership,” she said.

New Bear Mountain tennis director Russ Hartley, who spent his first day on the job earlier this month, brings years of tennis experience to the club, having been the pro at the Racquet Club of Victoria before taking the head job at the Vancouver Lawn Tennis and Badminton Club.

He hopes to foster a strong sense of community amongst members, echoing Grandmaison’s thoughts on tennis being a social sport.

“One of our goals here is to develop a real club atmosphere and one of the benefits of having a tennis club is the community and the social component,” he said. “So when people come down, it’s not just a set of tennis courts to go out and play … it’s a place where you see your friends.”

From a playing perspective, the clay surface will offer a whole new set of challenges for players. Hartley noted it can be a difficult adjustment for someone more accustomed to hard courts. However, the softer clay surface is much easier on the body than a hard court and is a great surface for juniors to learn on, he added.

“About 80 to 85 per cent of the top 20 players in the world were raised on clay,” he said.

And with Canada boasting some of the world’s top players, including world No. 4-ranked Milos Raonic, both Hartley and Grandmaison are seeing an increase in local enthusiasm for one of the world’s most popular sports.

“That’s definitely made a huge impact,” Hartley said. “That’s something that Canada has been dying for for the last number of years. Tennis is continuing to surge upwards in its popularity.”

“We have a junior program at the Langford Tennis Club and we have a wait list … it’s a growing sport on the West Shore,” Grandmaison added.

The facility is designed to host professional tournaments in the future, and a tennis pavilion, winter bubble and lights are all a part of the eventual plans.

For more information on the project, log on to bearmountain.ca/recreation/tennis.