New tennis dome project breaks ground

A new indoor four-court tennis facility is set to take shape on Chatham’s west side this year thanks to a community-wide effort by volunteers, the municipality, Tennis Canada and local couple Mark and Stephanie Chapados, long-time advocates of the project. Mark and Stephanie Chapados, left, Mayor Darrin Canniff, Tennis Canada community projects manager Alison Anderson and Adam Seigel, CEO of Tennis Clubs of Canada were happy to grab shovels at the launch.

By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Thanks to a dedicated effort that began with Stephanie and Mark Chapados, Chatham-Kent is set to serve indoor tennis.

Last week, officials from Tennis Canada paid a visit to Chatham to take part in a groundbreaking ceremony in the field where a four-court domed facility will be constructed west of St. Clair College’s powerline school.

Stephanie, wife of competitive player and coach Mark Chapados, said it all began six years ago when she wanted to find a way to help her husband keep his game sharp during the winter months.

Normally, that involved the Chatham resident travelling to a bigger centre when the cold weather hit. But with the advent of the tennis dome, the Chapados and others can play the game year-round right at home.

“It feels surreal,” said a beaming Stephanie following the ceremony. “I’m really hoping we can get the community support behind this. I hope the community can come out and play. ”

She said she reached out to Mayor Darrin Canniff with the idea about creating indoor tennis courts and that got the ball rolling.

Mark, echoing his wife’s enthusiasm, said seeing the initiative come to fruition was “incredible” acknowledging it’s a win that will allow the game to grow in Chatham-Kent.

In his remarks, Mayor Darrin Canniff praised the efforts of the Chapados, municipal staff and Tennis Canada on the collaboration, joking that Chatham-Kent may offer the world the next “Roger Federer.”

Alison Anderson, manager of community projects for Tennis Canada, said it “takes a village” to create the indoor projects, noting commitment from local leadership is critical to the success of facility.

She also named the Chapados as the “ultimate community champions.

“I hope that you know how important you have been in bringing us all here today,” Anderson said.

Chatham-Kent was one of six Canadian communities selected to receive funding in 2024 from the Year-Round Community Tennis Courts Program. Funded by a $1.2-million donation from Rogers, each site will receive $200,000 in seed money to get their respective projects off the ground. It will allow an additional 400 hours of court time annually for residents of Chatham-Kent.

The facility will be operated by Tennis Clubs of Canada.

The domed tennis facility is part of a larger recreational C-K development that will see 20 acres of farmland turned into a park that will include a playground, paths and other sports fields, along with the new dome.

According to Canniff, funding for the new park is currently being sorted out but noted that Hydro One will be a major contributor. Additional sponsorships are being sought, he said.

The land for the Bear Line Park has been donated by St. Clair College.


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