Photo: FREY – Tennis Photo Network
It is the first week of the grass-court season. A time when children watch the best players in the world battle on the lawns. A court surface that they have perhaps never seen outside their television or computer. That is the case for most young players unless they live in the United Kingdom.
In Canada there is a very small chance of experiencing the speed of the court, the smell of cut grass and chalk, the slipperiness under your shoes, or the pure sound of the ball. Despite tremendous success from Canadian players at Wimbledon, one would be hard-pressed to find a true lawn tennis facility anywhere in the country.
In fact, there are only four facilities in total. One in Toronto, one on Prince Edward Island, one in West Vancouver, and one on Vancouver Island. As a comparison, there are roughly 191 public and private tennis facilities in Toronto alone. Here are the breakdowns of each of the four grass-court facilities.
High Park Club – Toronto Ontario
Address: 100 Indian Road, Toronto, Ontario
Phone Number: 416-536-8054
Number of Grass Courts: 2
Operation Dates: May to October
Membership Required: Yes
Waitlist: 5-7 Years
About: Let’s get straight to the point for this club. It’s unlikely to play on these grass courts anytime soon. The club is primarily a curling club, and the two tennis courts were formerly used for lawn bowling. They are currently accepting membership applications for curling but unfortunately not for tennis, and even when they do accept membership applications for tennis it is a 5-7 year wait. Best to try your luck elsewhere.
Rustico Resort Golf & Tennis Club – New Glasgow P.E.I
Address: 496 Grand Pere Point Road, New Glasgow, Prince Edward Island
Phone Number: 902-963-2357
Number of Grass Courts: 4
Operation Dates: Mid June to Early Fall
Membership Required: No
About: There are much more positives about this facility compared to the one in Toronto. The resort sits right on the Northern P.E.I. coast and there is no membership required to use the courts. There are memberships available for users that plan to play on a regular basis, but single-time court bookings are available. These courts are not often busy so there’s no need to worry about booking well in advance. The downside is there was a recent change in ownership and there’s a possibility the courts will be closed in the future if they don’t get used more. It’s shocking that one of the few facilities in the country is lacking players. All that means is everyone reading this article needs to go book their stay at the resort to keep the courts open!
Hollyburn country club – west vancouver b.c.
Address: 950 Cross Creed Road, West Vancouver, British Columbia
Phone Number: 604-922-0161
Number of Grass Courts: 3
Operation Dates: Early June to End of September
Membership Required: Yes
Waitlist: Subject to board approval
About: Like High Park Club in Toronto, Hollyburn is a private facility open only to members. It is situated on a mountainside with amazing facilities. They have all three court surfaces, hard, clay, and of course grass as well as many other sports facilities, restaurants, and more. Unlike the club in Toronto there is no long waitlist. Unfortunately, the membership fees may cost more than a new car. To become a member a person needs to apply, be approved by a board, and the membership fee is upwards of fifty thousand dollars!
South Cowichan Lawn Tennis Club – Vancouver Island B.C.
Address: 2290 Cowichan Bay Road, Cowichan Bay, British Columbia
Phone Number: 250-746-7282
Number of Grass Courts: 7
Operation Dates: Mid May to Mid September
Membership Required: No
About: Always save the best for last! This club is one of the oldest lawn tennis clubs in the world. Founded in 1887 with over 100 years of operation, it has been declared a BC Heritage Site. There’s no worry about this club closing or not being able to book a court. Located less than an hour north of Victoria, members and guests can play on the SEVEN well-maintained grass courts. Canada may not be known for their grass courts, but this club certainly has defied odds by being one of the best and longest-serving grass-court facilities in the world.
More Grass Courts are Needed
All in all, there is clearly a hole in grass-court availability in Canada. Hard and asphalt courts are the easiest and cheapest to maintain but one true lawn tennis facility is unacceptable for a country with so much success on this surface. Professional players often play the best on the surface they grew up with. Sure, once you reach the top of the rankings you can practice all over the world, but most athletes don’t have that luxury.
When young players see Milos Raonic or Genie Bouchard in a Wimbledon final, or Vasek Pospisil hoist the doubles trophy, they dream of that feeling. Ask almost any top player and they’ll say their dream as a kid was to play/win Wimbledon. Canada needs more grass courts so children can experience a feeling that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
I can personally attest to this. I played at the Rustico Resort courts in P.E.I. and it’s something I will never forget.