Tennis courts in Winnipeg have received a lot of love over the past five years, ever since the city was taken to task for the dilapidated condition of its outdoor surfaces.
"The public has been asking for improved tennis facilities and we've responded. There's been a great demand for these courts," said Jonina Ewart, a parks services administrator for the city.
Back in the summer of 2013, Tennis Manitoba lamented the stated of the city's outdoor courts, saying out of 140, only 24 were in usable condition.
The asphalt was crumbling and weeds had filled large cracks, while the nets sagged — if they even existed.
Now the city reports that 50 per cent of the courts are in good condition, while another 30 per cent are listed as fair. Only 20 per cent are considered poor.
Others have been converted into pickleball courts, basketball courts or even skateparks, depending on the demand and best use for the space.
There are now 135 tennis courts and 51 of them have been refurbished with a product called Plexicushion, rather than asphalt.
The Plexi base is a blend of latex, rubber and plastic particles, designed to absorb body shock and reduce muscle fatigue. It is topped with a colourful acrylic surface coating that should last about seven years in extreme temperatures. A simple resurfacing is only needed after that.
On Monday, the city unveiled two more refurbished courts at La Fleche Park in the city's Charleswood area, as well as three pickleball courts and a new basketball court.
The cost for the project was $160,000 but the value from the expected use cannot be measured, Ewart said, especially when it comes to competing with the sedentary blight of smartphones and tablets.
"It's always a good thing when we can convert courts to draw people outdoors and get them to put the screens down," she said.
One of the courts that had fallen into disrepair was at the Crescentwood site of Corydon Community Centre. It has since been transformed into two full-size basketball courts that are busy most afternoons and evenings.
The tennis courts at the Sir John Franklin and River Heights sites of the Corydon club have been completely overhauled with the new Plexi surface.
Next on the list is the renewal of two courts in the Lindenwoods area and two in St. Germain Park in the St. Vital neighbourhood.
"We're always looking at improving our assets, but it always depends on what's available with the capital budget," Ewart said.