About 20 promising tennis hopefuls come to the North Shore Winter Club every week to practice and train, but the space and hours are limited.
“We rent courts amongst the members here and operate on two courts most of the time and that’s kind of tricky,” said Oded Jacob, the head of the National Junior Training Program for Tennis Canada.
Unlike its eastern counterparts in Toronto and Montreal, he said B.C. doesn’t have a “home court” or base.
“This is a growing sport and it deserves to be in the front of the line,” he said.
Kids between the ages of 10 to 15, who are selected for their promise to shine in the sport, have to forfeit their lunch hours and class times to practice.
“I have to arrive late every time which is why I’m going here. I’m trying to get here so many times per week but I just can’t attend the full length, which is sad and I have to adapt to it,” said 14-year-old student athlete Gary Jiang.
“The accessibility is pretty hard because there’s not a lot of courts and like, there’s so many really good players that don’t have so much space to play,” added 11-year-old student athlete Clara Vicol.
The province said Tennis BC is proposing to build a new facility in Burnaby and is encouraged to develop a budget for it.
In a statement, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport said, “We are aware of Tennis Canada’s proposal to build a new tennis and racquet sports facility, in partnership with Tennis BC and the City of Burnaby, that would be a home for B.C. National Junior Training Program. The minister has met with Tennis Canada to discuss this project,”
“Tennis Canada has been encouraged to build a business case and develop a budget so the province can assess the viability of a public investment for the project. They have also been encouraged to apply to various federal and provincial infrastructure programs and to develop partnerships with private and corporate donors to secure funds. We look forward to reviewing the business case once completed,” the statement continued.
“Our passion and our love for the sport has overcome a lot of these challenges but as the world progresses, we also need to progress because in order to be in the front line of development, we will need all that means possible,” said Jacob.
With the popularity of the sport booming, the push for a western home court continues.