The Fort Erie Tennis Club is ready to serve a new season.
And this summer will mark the first time in two years that the club has started a season without any form of public health restrictions in place.
“It was a roller coaster ride without any tennis,” said chairman Bill Pinto. “Then we had only singles, then a period of only allowing people from a family bubble with no restrictions.”
Vice President John Boersma said membership numbers have taken a hit as a result.
“We have reduced our membership fees during COVID,” he said, adding that fees will return to pre-pandemic prices this year – $150 per person and $250 per family.
Typically, the season runs from April to October, Boersma said.
“It’s basically a six month subscription when all is said and done.”
Memberships also include access to regular clinics held throughout the season, including cardio sessions as well as sessions for beginners and advanced players. Clinics are offered on Wednesdays with three-hour sessions available, at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Currently, the club operates six courts, including two Har-Tru courts.
“It’s a synthetic form of clay,” Pinto explained.
“The value of Har-Tru courts is that they are good for older people,” Boersma added. “They are less stressful on the joints.”
The club has invested $12,000 in the project and both courts are currently being renovated and will be available for use by May 15.
The club has also submitted a proposal to the city to convert a seventh pitch at the Central Avenue site into three pickleball pitches.
“We are in talks with the city for the seventh court,” Boersma said. “We are preparing to play in 2023.”
The club operates in a three-way partnership with the city and Fort Erie Bingo, Pinto said.
“The city owns the facility and provides some funding. We are largely sponsored by Fort Erie Bingo.
Bingo funds are important to the club, he added.
“Bingo is a necessity for our junior program to exist.”
In 2021, the junior program had 132 registrants, Boersma said, making it the largest in southwestern Ontario.
Along with a regular return to play, the club is also planning its slate of tournaments and round-robin events. It will also host the Niagara Region Tennis Network’s Niagara Slam event from July 19 to August 1. The divisions include men’s and women’s singles and doubles as well as mixed doubles.
The club is located at 353 Central Ave. Anyone interested in becoming a member can find more information at forterietennis.ca.