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Inflatable domes a big hit for Quebec’s indoor tennis players

It’s not a revolutionary change, but inflatable domes covering outdoor tennis courts are serving up aces with local tennis players.

“This is obviously a great asset for us,” Jean Péloquin, a tennis player at the Club de Tennis François Godbout in Waterloo, Que., told Global News.

The four exterior courts have been temporarily covered with a vinyl-coated polyester dome, allowing tennis to be played in the winter. Inside, it’s heated and well lit.

”The more the better. I mean, people will be able to keep on playing year round,” Péloquin said.

The idea was spearheaded  by local teaching pro, Norman Rothsching. He had been working for years to have a facility like this built and finally, he was able to convince Tennis Canada to pay $200,000 in seed money for the $1.6 million structure. The balance came from corporate sponsors, the City of Waterloo and an individual donation.

”It’s a partnership between a non-profit and the city, so our overhead is very low. Therefore, we can charge the players less. They pay less,” Rothsching, told Global News.

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The dome was installed last fall and is slated to be removed in the spring. It’s the only one of its kind in the province of Quebec sanctioned by Tennis Canada, which has also subsidized similar domes in other cities across the country.

The goal of Tennis Canada is to build 30 domes to cover 160 courts by 2029 and make tennis a lot more accessible and affordable to people who would otherwise have to become members of private indoor clubs, which are more expensive.

”We try to find ways that playing all year round doesn’t cost so much and that’s our mission. We’re trying to get more people on the courts,” Eugène Lapierre, a special adviser to the CEO of Tennis Canada, told Global News.

François Godbout, who is a former top-ranked Canadian player, helped fund the dome and is thrilled with its success.

”It’s beyond my wildest dreams, I tell you. We have over 500 members and it’s booming,” he told Global News.

The covered courts also attract a lot of youths who would normally never pick up a tennis racquet in the winter.

”We have three schools here that could walk here. About 1,500 students locally” Rothsching said.

His 12 year-old son normally plays hockey in the winter, but thanks to the dome, he too is getting a big hit out playing in the inflatable bubble.

”I like it a lot. I haven’t been in a place like this,” Simon Rothsching said.

It’s a big hit for  indoor tennis under a removable dome whose popularity is inflating.


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