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Tennis anyone? City courts too decrepit: group

Posted: 08/7/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 08/7/2013 6:48 AM | Updates

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Tennis courts in need of repair behind Margaret Grant Pool. The head of the provincial tennis group says maintenance is crucial.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Tennis courts in need of repair behind Margaret Grant Pool. The head of the provincial tennis group says maintenance is crucial. Photo Store

THE city's public tennis courts are in dire need of repair, says Tennis Manitoba.

Mark Arndt, executive director of Tennis Manitoba, said out of the 130 city-owned tennis courts, only about 24 are usable. The rest are in various states of disrepair, which is keeping people from playing.

"We're trying to keep people in the game, and basically you go into these dilapidated courts, and it's tough to keep people interested," Arndt said.

Arndt said he noticed the extent of the damage while playing with his son at one of the facilities. He said after 20 minutes of playing, his son fell and scraped his arm on some rocks on the court. Though this was a minor incident, Arndt said he is still concerned about how safe playing on the courts is.

"I wouldn't be playing on these courts. It's too unsettling. The ground's too unsettling and I wouldn't want to risk injury by playing," he said.

As the courts are city facilities, it's up to the city to maintain them.

Arndt said Tennis Manitoba hasn't yet reached out the city, but plans to do so.

The work that would keep the courts in good condition involves things such as sweeping sand and gravel off the courts and pressure-washing them at least once a year, as the dirt wears away at the top surface, Arndt said.

"It's like maintaining a car, it's like maintaining anything else. If you want to keep it up to standard you have to spend some time after they're constructed," he said.

Tim Green, president of the board of the Linden Woods Community Centre, said the courts there are usable, if not pristine.

"They need some work. We're going to be doing line-painting on them this year. The nets are getting old," he said.

Green said the centre just received a grant that will let them do some of the repairs.

He said the centre could always use more money, but they make do with what they're getting.

"We can make them better. Our job is to try to maintain them best we can with the budget we have," Green said.

Michelle Bailey, a communications officer at the City of Winnipeg, said via email the city has limited resources and money that go into maintaining courts.

"We do what we can with what we've got, keeping in mind we have numerous facilities of all kinds that need attention," Bailey said in the email.

Some courts in the city are in better condition, including Cindy Klassen, Joe Malone and Maples Community Centre, she said.

But the money for repairs can't always come from the city, Bailey said.

Courts with cracks usually can't be repaired and need government funding or partnerships to be replaced. In some cases, other institutions have shared the cost of developing courts. For example, four tennis courts were developed by the Seven Oaks School Division and the city shares in their maintenance costs.

Arndt said if the city can't maintain the number of courts it currently has, it should focus on maintaining fewer of them better.

"I'd love to have less courts, but properly maintained courts. In this case less is more," he said.

oliver.sachgau@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 7, 2013 B1

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Updated on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 6:48 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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