Friday, November 15, 2013

Tennis in winter? Yes, at Valley Club dome

Bubble structure is one of a kind in the valley

Express Staff Writer

The Valley Club Tennis Dome is the first of its kind in the Wood River Valley. The Valley Club is in its second year of its winter tennis program. Photo by Roland Lane

   When most people think of The Valley Club north of Hailey, they think of, well, golf; however, now people can start thinking of tennis now, too.
    If the club’s tennis facility looks like a giant white bubble from afar, that isn’t far off. The Valley Club is now in its second year of its winter tennis program in a dome that sits on top of two tennis courts.
    According to Barry Bevers, general manager at The Valley Club, the tennis program grew so significantly (almost 500 percent in recent years) that the need for two more tennis courts was vital. And when the opportunity to buy a dome came, Bevers jumped on the opportunity to bring one to the Wood River Valley.
    The dome was purchased used three years ago from Teton Pines in Jackson, Wyo. Apparently, Teton Pines uses clay courts and the dome trapped too much moisture for the clay surfaces to be effective.
    The dome went up Nov. 1 and will stay in place until late April. And so far, The Valley Club’s members love the facility.

In the dome, after playing 10 minutes, you’re down to your shorts and t-shirt.”
Jake Davis
Assistant pro

    “The reaction has been really strong,” said Bevers. “It’s accelerated a lot of our membership sales in that category. We’re close to 27 members in the last two years of our social membership and it’s largely attributed to having year-round tennis.”
    The dome is a large air-structure bubble that is easy to break down and store away. It takes about 25-30 people to put the dome up and once it’s positioned and ready to be filled with air, it takes 25-30 minutes for the structure to be completely filled with air and ready to go.
    Bevers said the hardest part is putting the fabric in the foundation.
    Once the dome is up, the dimensions cover two tennis courts, which are 102 feet by 115 feet. The bubble is a little over 33 feet tall at its peak.
    “Every time I go in there, it just amazes me because it’s much bigger than it looks from the outside,” said Bevers.
    The dome’s manufacturer is Yeadon, which makes sports domes for tennis, swimming, football, baseball, track and field, biking and gymnastics sports training facilities, just to name a few.
    The dome at The Valley Club allows for year-round tennis, which helps promote the club’s tennis program.
“It’s been great because our summer program has been growing over the past four years,” said Jake Davis, assistant tennis pro. “We’ve been able to keep people with our summer program playing year-round. There are only seven indoor courts around the valley and (we) have two of them.”
    The other indoor courts in the Wood River Valley are at Zenergy Health Club and Spa in Ketchum (two courts) and the Copper Ranch condominium complex in Hailey (three courts).
    In addition to head tennis pro Reid Arthur, The Valley Club has six instructors in the summer. However, in the winter, Davis is the only pro at the club.
    “(The dome) is fantastic because our members usually play four months in the summer and then take eight months off,” Davis said. “It’s been a great addition to the club to be able to keep the continuity of tennis alive. It makes the club much more attractive.”
    Arthur and Davis are a big part of why the dome is up in the first place. The two tennis pros have helped increase the production of the tennis program at the club. And they hail from similar backgrounds.
    Davis is from Layton, Utah. He grew up playing at the Ogden Athletic Club where he played under a two-court dome setup that is very similar to the one at The Valley Club. Both Davis and Arthur went to Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. The two never met before working in Idaho, but did play for the same coach.
    “The dome adds so much value for our members and future members,” said Davis.
    The dome is complemented by the Sun Valley sun on clear days. Because the dome is white, the sun enhances the lighting, only adding to great tennis play. The temperature is near perfect at 60-65 degrees.
    Davis said he’s played in other domes that don’t have such nice amenities.
    “It has a great environment, especially the heating aspect of it,” he said. “I’ve been to other courts where it’s cold and you have to wear sweatpants all the time. In [our] dome, after playing 10 minutes, you’re down to your shorts and t-shirt.”
    Bevers was able to install a new feature so the dome will start to pay for itself. The Valley Club charges its members a $12 court fee, which will cover the utilities costs.
    Bevers said his goal is to have The Valley Club be a one-stop shop of year-round sporting opportunities for its members.

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