Head pro Sean Hartley lines up a backhand during an opening day hitting session at Bear Mountain’s latest offering, an eight-court clay court tennis facility. (Joel Tansey/News Gazette staff)

Bear Mountain Tennis Centre opens to positive reviews

Founding members excited by addition to Langford tennis community

As Rafael Nadal was putting the finishing touches on his record-setting 10th French Open championship on the red clay of Roland Garros in Paris, West Shore tennis enthusiasts were getting a taste of the dirt as well.

That might not sound appetitizing, but for tennis players in Greater Victoria the newly-opened clay courts at Bear Mountain are a welcome addition to the local tennis scene, providing numerous benefits over hard courts, including a different style of play and a softer, more forgiving surface.

The eight courts are also unique in Canada as the largest indoor/outdoor red clay facility in the country.

Longtime tennis pro and PISE CEO Robert Bettauer discussed the project at an early stage with Bear Mountain owner Dan Matthews, suggesting red clay for the surface.

“I’m so proud and impressed with how this facility has come to be realized,” he said, gesturing towards the courts. “This is a world-class setting. I’ve played at some of the best clubs in the world (and) to be on this kind of quality red clay, next to a mountain, overlooking the valley and looking to Mt. Baker … unbelievable.”

Not only is clay easier on knees and joints, it’s also a great surface for juniors as it forces players to construct points rather than simply blow it by their opponents.

“Ninety-five of the top 100 men and women tennis players in the world all learned their tennis on clay,” Bettauer noted. “They learned such a great foundation of movement and forehand and groundstrokes … Clay gives that to you because you’ve got more time and you have to generate your own power which means your technique has to be better.”

The father and son team of Russ and Sean Hartley will be running much of the tennis centre’s programming in the roles of director and head pro respectively.

The elder Hartley was visibly excited to see the courts get their first match play over the weekend.

“(The courts) have gone in beautifully … (They) are playing nicely and the atmosphere around here is great,” he said.

That excitement was shared by the club’s founding members, who turned out in droves under sun-soaked skies and comfortable temperatures for Sunday’s opening.

“Clay is something for older players. I have some ankle and knee issues and the surface is just so much better for the joints,” said Langford resident Erwin Allerdings, noting that the possibility of winter play also attracted him to sign up.

“It’s the first time I’ve played on clay so I can’t compare it but I think it’s quite wonderful and I can’t wait to come back and play again,” said Cowichan Valley resident Su Robinson.

Another benefit lies in the fact that balls leave a mark on clay, making it easier to judge whether a shot is in or out.

“The beauty is that it takes that discretion out of it,” laughed founding member Jack Rekis. “That’s kind of neat, because you do play in tournaments and things where you kind of wonder whether the ball was actually good or not, so people with bad eyesight won’t have that excuse anymore.”

The $4 million project requred 120 cubic metres of clay rolled out to a thickness of one inch, weighing in at 185 tonnes. The material, which is made up of reused and recycled brick, was sourced from Lehigh Cement in Victoria. The courts will be resurfaced every fall, requiring two tonnes of clay for the eight courts.

Preparation for the construction of the bubble will begin after the resort hosts the Pacific Links Championship in September.

Ultimately, the hope is that the facility will host provincial, national and even International Tennis Federation events as well as become a national development tennis centre through Tennis Canada.

joel.tansey@goldstreamgazette.com

Twitter: @joelgazette

Bear MountainLangford

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Its eight red clay courts make the tennis facility at Bear Mountain the largest of its kind in Western Canada. (Joel Tansey/News Gazette)

Just Posted

Cowichan residents invited to join Walk for Alzheimer’s online

Taking place on Sunday, May 31, the online event will start at 9 a.m.

Duncan Lanes bowlers take on the best in B.C.

The best results for the Cowichan Valley bowlers came in the intermediate girls division

Sonia Furstenau column: Now the time to make changes for the better

This coronavirus has given us opportunity to identify what matters most in our day-to-day lives.

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Drivesmart column: Staying on your side of the road

No exemptions that grant permission to disobey the keeping to the right rule based on convenience.

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read