Tennis courts needed

Alan Christiansen

Dear editor:
For 35 years now, citizens of the Town of Fort Frances have endured the erosion of the public tennis courts next to the Memorial Sports Centre.
In the 1970s and early ’80s, there were many local athletes—some fairly serious about the sport and some who just enjoyed the sport for some exercise.
More than a handful of locals well into their 80s have enjoyed this pastime.
Over the years, the numbers dwindled as the courts became more difficult to keep up and players started playing in adjacent areas. For local players, it became more apparent that this was going to be our only choice to continue to play the sport we loved.
It seems the town tried on several occasions to obtain funds, either through grants from government agencies and other means, but this endeavour never seemed to make enough of a rumble to proceed with.
The Memorial Sports Centre has been remodelled several times since, and baseball diamonds sprouted like weeds in the west end of town, as it seemed that the major sports such as hockey, football, soccer, and softball continued to be successful at garnering funds when needed.
Nearly every town in Northwestern Ontario, except Fort Frances, has public tennis courts that are at least usable for the general public. Smaller communities, such as Atikokan, Emo, and Nestor Falls, have at least two courts while Dryden and Kenora have four or more.
For many years, Fort Frances High School bused students from the west end to the courts near the Memorial Sports Centre as part of the school’s athletic program. Now it seems that this also is not important enough to keep on their agenda.
The town also had tennis as part of its summer youth program, which is now a thing of the past.
Maybe someone in the local government should have thought of a solution to this problem as soon as they were aware that the new library would be built on the property that previously was occupied by the old tennis courts.
The cost of new courts seems likes a mere drop in the bucket compared to the amount of money that gets spent locally on new buildings and other necessities that the town deems as appropriate expenditures.
Now that the Catholic school board has agreed to donate the land next to the St. Francis Sportsfields, please do the right thing and get busy planning the new courts. One summer is enough without them.
There is a large contingent of local taxpayers who are very disappointed with the way this situation has been handled. This would be good for the schools and all locals, young and old alike.
Alan Christiansen
Fort Frances, Ont.