The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

Lack of indoor courts makes it hard for Calgary players to practice in winter

thumb _MG_4576For accomplished tennis player Harrison Scott, finding time and an open indoor court to practice at in Calgary is a difficult balancing act.

 Harrison, 14, competes not only in U14, but also in U16 and U18 age groups and has had numerous accomplishments in 2011 — including attending the International Tennis Federation's (ITF) world junior tennis championship in the Czech Republic this summer. In that tournament, Harrison helped Canada's U14 team place ninth by winning his only match of the tournament against a player from Italy, beating his opponent three sets to one.

Scott started playing tennis when he was three, and his two sisters currently attend school in the U.S. to play tennis. Tennis is something he and his family can do together.

"It's a sport for life," he says.

As a competitive player, he says his favorite thing about the sport is winning, but he has also won the sportsmanship award four times at ITF tournaments.

Scott is currently ranked No.1 in U14s and U16s in Alberta, No. 2 in U14s and No. 9 in U16s in Canada.

He says his favorite moment in tennis was the indoor U14 nationals when he won his semi-finals match where no one thought he was going to win. This win in Vancouver guaranteed him a spot on the team picked to go to the World Juniors tournament in Europe.

Scott says his goal for the year is to become one of the top three U16 players in Canada so he can qualify for the Junior Davis Cup, which will be held in Mexico in May 2012.

Going to a top U.S. school to play tennis and receive an education is where he would like to be in a few years time. That way, he says, he can compete with the best in the United States and Europe. Schools in Canada just don't offer the same opportunities because they don't have the same sports programs, he says.

Calgary Indoor Courts Scarce

Because tennis is a sport that can be played at any age, getting court times in the city can be difficult, especially when Scott practices every day for one to four hours per day.

 MG_4576Harrison Scott faces the lack of court space head on
Photo by: Shannon Galley

By comparison, Toronto, Ont., has more than 40 indoor tennis facilities with multiple courts in each, according to www.ilovetennis.ca, which locates public and private tennis facilities across the country.

"It's hard to get courts in the winter," Barb says. "Last year Harrison had to train at three different clubs to get court times."

She would like to see indoor courts in the new rec centres to alleviate some of the demand.

"In an ideal place he'd be just training at the one tennis club."

She notes that advocates for tennis in Calgary have been trying to get new indoor facilities built or put into the plans of the new rec centres but have "run into roadblocks with the city."

Unfortunately, the government recently cut the funding for the four new rec centres in Calgary.

One of Harrison's coaches, Jeff Spiers, is the community development co-ordinator for Tennis Alberta and an advocate for tennis in Calgary. He has been fighting for more indoor tennis courts in the city since 2007.

"Harrison has had tremendous success over the last year," Spiers says.

"His success is even more impressive when you consider the fact that Harrison is at a major disadvantage compared to children from other parts of the country who have access to more court time.

"Juniors from Calgary do not have the same access to court time because of the lack of facilities here in Calgary."

Harrison says: "We want more people to keep playing tennis in Alberta.

"There aren't enough already."

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