A new junior-specific complex is set to be built at the Ballarat Regional Tennis Centre as junior sport looks to finally get back to some normality.
The tender process is currently open for the construction of six Hot Shots tennis courts as part of an almost $1.2 million project, which also includes a lighting upgrade.
Hot Shots is a Tennis Australia-designed junior program with children as young as three years old able to get into the sport on smaller courts with modified equipment such as lighter racquets, lower nets and low compression balls that bounce lower.
Hot Shots is designed for children from three to 12 years, taking them through different stages of development before starting club tennis.
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The blue hard courts will be built on what is currently a grassed area between the centre's full-sized hard court and clay court areas and measure 11 metres long and 5.5 metres wide with three-quarter sized nets and be surrounded by black fencing.
According to the tender documents, construction should begin no later than December 15 and will not affect the centre from functioning normally.
The lighting upgrade will upgrade the existing lights to LED to meet Australian club competition standards with the tender applications for those works recently closed.
Funding for the project came from a state government grant of just more than $1 million with almost $115,000 contributed by council and $13,000 by the Ballarat Regional Tennis Centre.
The new courts are set to provide an important boost to the centre which, like many sporting clubs, suffered from the stop-start nature of 2021.
Ballarat Regional Tennis Centre president Chris Alcock said the courts were vital in the development of junior tennis in Ballarat.
"The numbers that we're getting through the tennis centre have increased year on year. In COVID, we've had stop-start, but certainly the junior participation is trending upwards," he said.
"These courts will play a vital role in securing more juniors and probably allowing us to have the juniors, sort of four to 10, playing on the Hot Shots courts and we can have other junior tennis playing on the larger courts all at once. In many ways, it will help build a lot more atmosphere and desire for the participation at the club."
Mr Alcock said the upgrades would go a long way to making the Ballarat Regional Tennis Centre a hub for the sport in western Victoria.
"The lighting upgrade certainly gets us well above the Australian standards, so it'll be quite exciting for those that are fortunate to play after hours and under lights," he said.
"It's quite exciting times for Ballarat tennis as we truly build the club to be a hub for tennis in western Victoria. We have grand plans to do that and continue to have discussions with the City of Ballarat but also state government and Tennis Victoria about what it could be for the Ballarat Regional Tennis Centre."
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