Vancouver is unique among North American cites for its abundance of public outdoor tennis courts. The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation has over 170 courts in 43 parks, and Vancouver School Board has many more courts on school grounds. That surfeit of venues makes it very easy to get into playing tennis in Vancouver. It has also supported the existence of public outdoor court tennis clubs or groups that meet regularly at particular court locations for the warm months of the year, or in some cases, continue to meet for tennis year round.
Doubles is the game these groups play, since the idea is to get as many people running around on court as possible. They charge a modest fee for membership, to cover cost of such things as rental of public courts, provision of tennis balls, social events for club members, and so on. At various times, this writer has been member of several of the outdoor court tennis clubs, and can heartily recommend them to anyone who may not have a group of tennis pals always able to play when you are able.
This club rents courts from Park Board, reserving the two beside the False Creek Community Centre for play on Sunday morning, and three courts atop the parkade at 650 Moberly Road (officially known as Charleson Park) for play on Wednesday and Friday evenings. This summer the parkade courts are unavailable due to repairs needed to the roof membrane, and the club is using three courts at Jericho Beach Park Wednesdays and Fridays. Of the clubs that pay Park Board to reserve courts, this is the only one that meets three times a week. The False Creekers begin to play in April, this year on April 13. They go to some time in September. Balls are not provided by the club.
The False Creek Tennis Club offers many social/tennis events on other days than the scheduled play times. These are pay as you go. This club generally attracts a contingent of players who like to compete in local tournaments in the “Adult” categories, skill levels NTRP 3.0 to 4.5. This writer has observed that there are perhaps more fairly skilled female players amongst the False Creek membership, than seen in the other outdoor court clubs.
The organiser of this group is careful to point out that it is NOT a tennis club, and that they do not pay Park Board to reserve courts. Nevertheless, the group is de facto a club, charging a membership fee and an initiation fee to new members. The money goes to provision of balls for the whole year, and some incidental court maintenance equipment. The club organises dinners and tournaments for which there are additional small fees.
The Langara Group is very popular with early risers and retirees.
This club pays Park Board to reserve seven of the courts atop the Kersland Reservoir, in Queen Elizabeth Park, from May to September. They play on Tuesday and Friday evenings, with the club providing tennis balls. Unlike the other clubs listed here, membership in QETC includes four social evenings offering free beer and wine (members only, of course) along with the food. Because of the provision of alcoholic beverages at the socials, membership in the club is limited to adults only. However the other groups listed here generally do not have members under drinking age either.
Membership tends to consist of recreational players only, with few, if any, local tournament competitors.
SPTC rents the three courts beside the Stanley Park Fish House Restaurant from Park Board, for play on Tuesday and Friday evenings, from May to early September. This club is unique among the outdoor public court clubs in it has teams that compete in the Lower Mainland outdoor spring Leagues for both Men and Women; the charge for membership includes membership in Tennis BC and delivery of its quarterly magazine, Axis; there is a reduced membership fee for seniors and juniors (no junior members though – so far, anyway).
For their non-league play, Tuesday and Friday evenings, the club provides tennis balls and a minimum of four courtside barbecues (burgers, dogs, salad, desert and non-alcoholic beverages provided) during the summer. At season end there is a pay-to-go dine and dance event.
In its membership there are some “Adult” category tournament players. Player skill levels among participants at the Tuesday and Friday social tennis nights generally range from NTRP 2.5 to 4.0 (beginner to decent intermediate).
This is a club for gay and lesbian players. It has the largest membership of any of the groups listed here. They play on the Stanley Park pay courts during the summer, with separate two hour sessions for Beginners, Intermediates, and Advanced players. Advanced players play on Sunday, Beginners and Intermediates twice weekly, on Monday and Friday. The club continues to play through the winter at Sportstown, in Richmond, one day a week. There is a fee for full yearly membership (half price for winter only), and a charge per session for play both outdoors at the park, or indoors at Sportstown. Unlike any of the other clubs or groups noted here, the VTA offers a singles ladder at a small additional fee, for those who are not satisfied with doubles play.
For the first time this year the VTA is sending teams to compete in the Lower Mainland outdoor spring Men’s League. League players must pay membership in Tennis BC, but at a reduced club rate than the norm for individuals. As with the False Creek Tennis Club, and the Stanley Park Tennis Club, some members are “Adult” category tournament players. The skill level for the general membership would be from NTRP 2.5 to 4.5.
The VTA has always struck me as a very well organised group, offering a wide variety of recreational and social activities to its members.
This writer has no familiarity with this club, beyond its web site. However, informants tell me the club has been known to play in tennis in Stanley Park. The web site announces an outdoor tennis season from May to October. But the club seems to organise many other social and recreational events, and has a varied rate structure for members.
I’ve heard it whispered that the Vancouver Tennis Club is a good place to meet young Asian chicks . Hmmmn, that doesn’t sound so bad.