CHARLOTTE TOWN, PEI
Racquet sports are returning to courts at a Charlottetown mall, Tennis PEI says
It’s just so exciting, said executive director Dave Mitchell. A lot of things came together to make that happen.
Mitchell met with SaltWire Network on November 29 to discuss plans to temporarily take over the courts formerly operated by the Spa Total Fitness Center
Bob Gollaher, our chairman of the board, was the main driver and his leadership was inspiring, Mitchell said.
Tennis PEI and Pickleball PEI join forces with APM and Killam Properties to offer game times and programming starting in the new year.
In the spring, when Gollaher heard about the changes to the mall and tennis courts, the only indoor tennis courts on the island, he became concerned and began to make alternative arrangements.
We’ve been scrambling all summer to figure out what we’re going to do for indoor courts this winter, Gollaher said.
Then, in late October, he noticed that work on the mall jobs hadn’t started yet.
So he emailed whether APM would be willing to temporarily lease the courts to Tennis PEI.
What will happen is that these courts will be separate from the Spa, a separate entity, Gollaher said. We called it the Royalty Racquet Center. There will be a separate entrance, there will be a wall between the spa and the tennis courts, so it will be a completely separate type of space.
The agreement means that the courts will be open for four months from the opening date with a re-evaluation in May to determine next steps.
Mitchell said he cannot disclose the cost of the project, but Tennis PEI will expand its equipment inventory to include pickleball nets and rackets.
We put mixed, minimally invasive lines on the tennis courts, which show pickleball lines, but also effectively disappear for the tennis players.
In addition to tennis programming, there will be daily pickleball round robins, Mitchell said.
The people you meet inside the lines become your friends. People you wouldn’t otherwise have anything in common with become close collaborators, that’s really cool.
Gollaher said the Royalty Racquet Center will be a proof of concept for the organization’s longer-term vision, a permanent facility to house tennis, pickles and squash.
A dedicated facility has been on Tennis PEIs’ wish lists for several years, but it’s hard to find one, Mitchell said.
(Tennis) takes up a lot of space and requires really high ceilings, he said.
For example, just one tennis court requires 7,000 square feet of floor space combined with 30-foot ceilings, he said.
We were looking for something to house pickleball and squash and put them in locker rooms and locker rooms, we were looking at somewhere between 50 and 60,000 square feet, Mitchell said. I’ve been in and out of just about every big building in this city since I got here.
Mitchell wants to create a club like the ones he has played in elsewhere.
A club is a community, he said. That’s what makes them so special. The people you meet inside the lines become your friends. People you wouldn’t otherwise have anything in common with become close collaborators, that’s really cool.
That’s why Mitchell is so anxious to find a permanent indoor home for racquet sports at PEI
There is nothing that was not willing to do, there is nothing that was not willing to watch. It’s just a matter of finding the right space that can be adapted for a world-class facility, which, quite frankly, is what PEI deserves.
Alison Jenkins is a reporter at SaltWire Network in Charlottetown.
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