New tennis courts officially opened

Joey Payeur

Hustle is a valuable asset to have on a tennis court.
It’s a pretty good characteristic to have when you’re trying to build one, too.
The hard work and dedication of those commissioned to make the Fort Frances Multi-Use Courts a reality had an opportunity to bask in the glow of a job well-done late Friday morning.
That’s when the outdoor facility, located along the back edge of St. Francis School just on the other side of the fence from Fort Frances High School, held its grand opening.
“We were looking at $80,000 per court as our first estimate,” project chairman Rick Wiedenhoeft recalled.
“We wanted to build four courts since we looked around and saw three schools close by that could use it,” he noted.
“One or two wasn’t going to do it.”
The costs eventually ended up increasing to $100,000 per court.
“It was a daunting task to raise that much money,” Wiedenhoeft conceded.
“People are active in Fort Frances but how many play tennis?” he mused.
“It was a big challenge.”
The challenge was met successfully due, in part, to several financial players.
A Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, combined with contributions from the Town of Fort Frances, the Rainy River District School Board, and the Northwest Catholic District School Board, helped raise roughly three-quarters of the roughly $475,000 needed for the project.
Most of the rest came down to the generosity of local residents.
“Anytime there is a fundraising project, this community comes together and is always very supportive of whatever we’re trying to build in the community,” lauded Wiedenhoeft, who joked the courts were not built based on any great benefit to him personally.
“I came out last month to try out the courts before they were open to the public. I’ve got no game,” he laughed.
Mayor Roy Avis was appreciative of Wiedenhoeft’s efforts, as well as those of the entire committee.
“The work he does for the committee shows he has a passion, and he’s seen that passion through,” said Mayor Avis, who noted $434,545 has been raised to date.
“When we all work as a team, we all see positive results,” he added.
“The project became a reality because where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Community Services manager Jason Kabel remembered the final depressing days of the courts located near the Memorial Sports Centre several years back.
“They were in complete disrepair and there were not many players,” he recounted.
“[Recently], I came up here and couldn’t get on the courts because they was full,” said Kabel.
“We ended up playing doubles so more people could play, but there was still people waiting to play on the sidelines.”
Local MPP Sarah Campbell also was on hand for the grand opening.
“These four courts will go a long way for students and community members to achieve physical education [and better health],” said Campbell.