Tennis committee to launch fundraiser

Joey Payeur

This is going to take more than car washes and bake sales.
But the Fort Frances Multi Use Tennis Court Committee is ready to give its full effort to drum up financial support from the community and region for its planned construction of four new tennis courts along the fenceline of the St. Francis Sportsfield on the north side of Fort Frances High School, where a little-used small soccer field currently sits.
The group is kicking off a multi-layered fundraising campaign for the estimated $320,000 project, with the Town of Fort Frances already having committed to matching whatever the committee raises (up to a maximum of $112,000).
“New tennis courts further attract outsiders and professionals who want a more multi-faceted community to come live in,” reasoned committee member Bob Tkachuk.
“We believe tennis is a sport for people from ages four to 94,” he noted.
“It’s a life sport [and] not just for one segment of society,” Tkachuk stressed. “It’s for everybody.”
The committee, with the co-operation of town officials, will be putting donation request notices into the sewer/water bills for all town residents next month.
“There will be an option for the public to donate money on a monthly basis so it doesn’t have to be in one big lump sum, like was done when they were raising money for the library and the hospital,” noted Tkachuk.
There also is a link on the group’s Facebook page (“Fort Frances Multi Use Tennis Courts”), which will allow people to donate online using PayPal.
Tax receipts will be issued for donations exceeding $25.
Tkachuk said corporate donation request letters also will be sent out throughout the town and region.
The committee currently is working on getting Trillium Fund and Moffat Family Fund grants, and also hopes the two local school boards will pitch in on the project.
“The Northwest Catholic District School Board has generously donated the land,” Tkachuk said, referring to the courts’ planned location.
“Tennis is still in the curriculum for the high school,” he added.
“When the courts were here before, they were always used.
“The physical education department at the high school has sent a letter of support for our project,” Tkachuk noted.
“There is an optimism from our group the two school boards will assist in funding a portion of this very worthwhile project.”
The committee also will organize some raffles and has put an application in for the “Kraft Project Play” contest, which will see Kraft award anywhere from $25,000-$250,000 towards upgrading recreational facilities in the chosen communities.
The history of tennis in Fort Frances dates back to the 1930s, when clay courts were constructed behind the courthouse.
In the 1960s, a paved area on the corner of Portage Avenue and Second Street East became the new home for local tennis players.
But the strains of time, and constant wear-and-tear brought on by both players and the weather, took their toll on the courts, which were shut down in 2009 after being deemed unsafe by the town.
Tkachuk said the ultimate goal of the committee changed from its original one.
“At first, we were just looking at building tennis courts,” Tkachuk remarked.
“But we quickly switched to the idea of having a multi-use facility because in today’s world, you need to have that,” he stressed.
Tkachuk said along with tennis, the courts could be used for other activities such as pickleball, aerobics, yoga, volleyball, and badminton.
A definite no-no, however, will be skateboarding and hockey, which Tkachuk said would compromise the new layered, non-concrete surface.