With the opening of the state-of-the-art Osten and Victor Alberta Tennis Centre in Calgary, there’s a chance the next Milos Raonic or Eugenie Bouchard could come out of Alberta.
After a decade-long process, the vision of former Alberta MLA and Canadian Senator Ron Ghitter is now concrete or in this case plexicushion, the same surface used at the Australian Open.
Ghitter said it’s emotional to see Calgarians using the facility.
“When you see all these wonderful kids out on the court playing, that’s what it’s all about. It’s open to the public, it’s non-profit, it’s a facility that will be great for Calgarians for generations to come. So…it’s very gratifying to see it happen.”
The Alberta Tennis Centre sits on land leased from the City of Calgary in Acadia and cost $10 million to build. The province of Alberta funded $2.4 million, while Tennis Canada brought the “overhead” down by another half million. The other $7 million was funded by donations, represented on a cool tennis ball donor wall.
Tennis Canada is sponsoring a high-performance program. Eleven-year-old Lourdes Kelsyck of Calgary was blown away when she first walked into the centre to train.
“It’s pretty unbelievable, I come from a club with only three courts and now we have eight. It’s really big and it’s just for tennis, not any other sports.”
There are five more outdoor courts that will be ready for summer action.
Over 250 kids have already registered for junior programs. There’s also adult programs and anyone in Calgary can book a court at this not-for-profit facility.
General manager Danny Da Costa is hoping this training centre will be a smashing success for adults and aspiring juniors.
“Our intention is to build the best program in Alberta and give opportunity to the kids to hone their skills, so they can eventually work their way to the national training centres in Montreal and Toronto.”
Word is Canada’s top players Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard will be paying a visit very soon. No doubt this facility could set the standard for major tennis facilities across Canada, and produce the next Milos or Genie, which would make Ron Ghitter’s ambitious venture a true winner.