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Something Social: Ladner Tennis Club

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Picture this: it’s a bright summer day and you’re walking past the tennis courts in your neighbourhood. Suddenly you see a blur of colours from the corner of your eye as somebody dives for the ball and, with a loud and satisfying “thwok”, returns it over the net for a point. Does this bring back memories?

If so, you’re certainly not alone. There are many tennis players who once enjoyed the sport in their youth but for one reason or another hung up their racquets in the garage.

Frank Gauvin, president of the Ladner Tennis Club at Hawthorne Park, says he found renewed passion for the sport after joining the club a decade ago.

“What you notice when you start a family and you’re busy with your kids is you’re not able to play too much. So oftentimes our members have kids that are grown up and they’ve got time to come out and play,” explains Frank.

Whether for that reason, or by coincidence, the club’s members are generally men and women who are either retired or close to it. Which is good news for those who might be intimidated by the thought of running around with the twenty-something athletes they see when watching Wimbleton on television.

The truth is that during my visit to the club there were only extremely friendly members in their forties, fifties and older having a good time talking, serving, joking and laughing.

But Frank says the club would certainly like to bring on younger members, as well as balance the demographics between men and women a little more. After all, the Ladner Tennis Club is for everybody.

“It’s a community based club,” explains Frank. “We don’t have indoor courts but in good weather you can play year round and we’ve got good lights to play at night.”

The club actually began back in 1971 at Cromie Park and was called the Ladner Racquet Club before relocating to Hawthorne Park in 1976. The clubhouse has an equally interesting back story, beginning its life in the 1940s as a military barracks at the Boundary Bay Airport. It was purchased and moved to Hawthorne at a cost of $1,900.

Today, the clubhouse retains its exterior heritage character but inside there is a cozy space with a kitchenette, several comfortable sofas, and indoors games like darts and ping pong for those summer BBQs when members get together for more than just tennis.

“People can get really competitive in the ping pong, too,” says Frank, laughing.

It’s not difficult to imagine why.

Speaking of competition, play can range between casual to fierce, with a ladder ranking system that allows for friendly bragging rights at the club.

The season generally runs April to September (although players are welcome year round, the weather may not cooperate) and with four courts there are usually 16 players at once on busy nights.

Best of all, annual membership and participation in tennis is affordable at $100 per adult, or $50 for students. A one-time $30 initiation fee is also required. As for gear, good running shoes and breathable, comfortable clothes are advisable, while a racquet will probably set you back about $100.

“Once you’ve got a reasonable racquet it’s going to last you a long time other than having it restrung periodically depending on how much you play,” says Frank.
Drop ins are Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6-10 p.m., during which time you’ll find helpful and friendly members.

If you’d like to learn more about the club visit ladnertennisclub.com.

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