The Tennis Center
- Address: 2500 Pine Grove Road
- Open: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., 362 days a year
- Features: Six indoor courts, 10 outdoor courts, pro shop, viewing deck
- To make reservations: Call 879-8400
- For more: Go to www.10s.com
The bubble had all but burst for public tennis in Steamboat two years ago.
The original facility at The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs - an antiquated, air-inflated fabric dome built in 1991 - was literally coming apart at the seams, worn by years of high-altitude sun exposure. On the inside, heating the non-insulated bubble created a muggy greenhouse because of the four clay courts' underground watering system.
"It was almost like it was raining inside from the condensation," said Joel Toy, president of the Steamboat Tennis Association.
Increased user demand on indoor courts that Toy said had a 96 percent occupancy rate compounded problems such as power outages that deflated the facility, deteriorating its the structure and darkening its reflective surface with wet clay.
Fortunately for Steamboat's tennis community, Jim Swiggart has a passion for the game.
"I love tennis, always have, always will," said Swiggart, director of the Tennis Center. "It's a game you take through your lifetime as evidenced by our five day a week senior league that has an average player age of 87."
In 2004, Swiggart spearheaded a Tennis Center Facility Replacement Committee effort to extend the lifetime of the facility. The Steamboat Springs City Council approved the plan to expand the indoor courts.
"In every step of the way, this was a public facility" Swiggart said, citing the $359,000 in community contributions that went toward the $3 million project that began in August 2005.
In the project, the bubble was replaced by an insulated frame and fabric structure with six cushioned hard courts. The renovation also included the addition of bathrooms for people with disabilities and a viewing deck above increased office and storage space.
"The bottom line is that we have the finest public playing facility in Colorado," Swiggart said.
When compared to tennis facilities in comparable mountain communities such as Vail and Aspen, access to the Tennis Center's six indoor courts, six outdoor clay courts and four outdoor hard courts also costs significantly less.
Because of the immediate increase in play after the entire court surface was finished on April 1, Swiggart has seen numbers jump dramatically across the board, including a 10 percent to 15 percent increase in summer indoor court use. John Aragon, Steamboat Springs High School coach for the boys and girls tennis teams - whose programs would not be possible without an indoor tennis facility - had watched the facility's expansion lead to both of his teams' numbers and their competitive skill level.
"We're able to host teams that come up here for tournaments and practice-wise, it's so much easier," said Aragon, who is also one of the center's four certified teaching professionals. "You can have long rallies. On the indoor surface you get true bounces, and it helps your footwork."
The Tennis Center, open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., 362 days a year, also has a full-service pro shop with premier racquet rentals and demos that provide Steamboat's only racquet restringing services.