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Salt Spring Island’s Extraordinary Tennis Community

Oct 27, 2018
written by: Tennis BC
written by: Tennis BC
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Salt Spring Island, BC – There’s something wonderful about Salt Spring Island. Anyone who has visited or spent time there knows it’s a beautiful gem off the West Coast of BC. The Saturday Market, the Fall Apple Festival, the incredible artistic community, the gorgeous natural setting … all these features and more help make Salt Spring Island a truly magical place.

Over the past few years, there’s been another wonderful development on the island, and it’s making tennis players and tennis facility planners across Canada sit up and take notice. The reason for this attention is that the Salt Spring Tennis Association has recently completed its second of two beautiful indoor tennis courts by raising funds entirely within the community. This is nothing short of astonishing when one considers that the SSTA has only 208 adult members and 18 juniors!

For years the SSTA rented a bubble for off-season play, but thanks to the vision, dedication, and extraordinary work of key people such as Erica Ross, Fernando dos Santos, and Deborah Orange, the tennis community significantly repaid the $600,000 cost of the first indoor court through innumerable fundraisers, private donations, and promissory notes. The court was built in a permanent steel structure, thus ensuring its legacy, and it was (and is) well managed by a group of enthusiastic volunteers.

The adroit financial management of this first project so impressed Salt Spring Island resident Norm Elliott that he generously donated $400,000 towards the construction of the SSTA’s second indoor court, which was recently completed. Norm was also delighted that so many of the island’s youth were now able to use the facility to have fun playing and taking lessons.

The steel structure for the second court is connected to the original building through a large breezeway, and both courts have excellent lighting, upper-level viewing galleries, plenty of storage, and a windowed vestibule at one end. Although the club’s volunteers manage all aspects of their new indoor tennis courts, they are quick to point out that it is a public facility, available to members, non-members, and visitors alike.

Opening day of the new court (officially named Elliott Court after its prime benefactor) took place earlier this month on a gorgeous autumn afternoon. The inaugural match included the club’s oldest member, Phil Mason (92), and Erica Ross against its youngest member, Scott Goddard (10), and Rose Heinekey. Other competitive matches followed on both courts (the original court now officially named Ross Court), after which club pros Marjorie Blackwood and Peter Schelling ran some fun drills and “hit with a pro” sessions. The day was capped off by an exhibition mixed doubles match with Marjorie and Peter against Art Hobbs and Karen Clarke.

When asked to comment on her experiences over the past several years, Erica Ross said, “Having two excellent tennis coaches [Marjorie and Peter] join our community has been key to increased enthusiasm and use of the indoor facility…. We know we have a very special community here on Salt Spring Island, but we hope others can use our experience as a template to benefit other small facilities.”

The Salt Spring Island tennis community is truly an extraordinary group of people. Congratulations to all on this wonderful and inspiring achievement!