TRENTON, N.J. -Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes was joined by Park Commission Executive Director Kevin Bannon and other County officials Oct. 20 as they cut a ribbon to officially open the County's new Indoor Tennis Center.
The center at Mercer County Park houses six courts and is equipped with heat and air conditioning, allowing matches to be played year round at one location for the first time.
"This state-of-the-art facility is the latest example of ingenuity in Mercer County and reinforces that our parks are second to none," said Hughes as he prepared to cut the ribbon. "This Indoor Tennis Center will serve generations of our residents and introduce the game of tennis to more people than ever before. In tennis terms, it's an ace."
Joining Hughes at the ceremony were Mercer County Tennis Director Marc Vecchiolla, County Park Commissioner Drew Worek, County Freeholder Dan Benson, and West Windsor Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh.
The facility is constructed of an aluminum frame and its exterior is a thick, fabric-like material. The building, which was erected next to the existing 22 outdoor tennis courts, is one of the only such facilities in the U.S.
Two of the six courts are situated on a lower elevation and feature bleachers that will allow for a showcase atmosphere during tournament and league play. The facility also features an observation deck complete with a sitting area where spectators can view the action on all six courts from above. Other features of the building include men's and women's locker rooms and lounge areas.
The new Indoor Tennis Center replaces the old center on the grounds of the Trenton-Mercer Airport in Ewing. Now, the outdoor and indoor tennis centers are combined into one comprehensive complex at Mercer County Park, Bannon said.
"The County now has the ability to host its lessons, camps, and tournaments all in one place, eliminating the need to fluctuate between two sites," he said. "We believe this fantastic new center is really going to open up the game of tennis to so many more people here in Mercer."
The center will operate nearly every day of the year, according to Mercer County Tennis Director Marc Vecchiolla.
"This is a very unique building and it's a tremendous upgrade for us," Vecchiolla said. "It's fully insulated, there is no echo effect, and it retains heat in the winter and cool air in the summer. It's a fantastic structure and we're fortunate to have a building of this caliber in Mercer County."
Vecchiolla added that after years of holding tennis programs in an outdated facility, the grand opening of the new center was "a dream come true." The facility was designed by CME Associates of Howell, N.J. and constructed by Green Construction.
The hours of operation will be 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The indoor tennis season runs from Oct. 27 to April 22, 2009.
Mercer County tennis cards that allow for play on both the indoor and outdoor courts are now on sale for $50 for residents and $75 for non-residents. Mercer County residents who are under 17 years old or 62 years old or older are eligible for a card at the discounted rate of $25. Tennis cards can be purchased online at https://register.communitypass.net/mercer or by visiting the Tennis Center.
For the majority of the winter season, two courts will be reserved for open play, two courts will be reserved for lessons, and two courts will be reserved for lottery winners. Beginning Oct. 27, seasonal play will begin. Seasonal court holders are residents who won a court time through the lottery. Seasonal court holders must pay a one-time, flat fee for the winter session and then have the rights to their court on a particular day and time. For more information on seasonal courts, contact the Tennis Center at (609) 448-2088.
A reservation for an hour and a half of tennis on one of the open courts may be made up to three days in advance by calling (609) 448-8007.
The 2008-09 Winter Tennis Lesson Program registration for all ages and levels of play will begin at midnight Saturday, Oct. 25, 2008 at https://register.communitypass.net/mercer.
All classes will be held at the new Indoor Tennis Center. The cost is $12 per hour. For instance, one four-week session of one hour classes would cost $48.
Classes are available for all age groups and ability levels. Age groups include: Pee Wee (5-6 years old); Junior (7-9 year olds); Junior (10-12 year olds); Junior (13 and up); Junior (high school); Futures; Adult Happy Hour Beginner Lessons; Adult Punisher Drill and Play; Adult Boot Camp; Adult Power Hour; and Adult Daytime Drill and Play.
All classes are offered at multiple times except Boot Camp and Power Hour. The winter season is offered in a series of four-week sessions which begin November 1 and last until March 31. Players who do not have their own racket, balls or equipment can borrow equipment from the County for the lessons. For program specifics, interested players may call (609) 448-8007.
Registration is online only and cannot be conducted by phone. Players may register in person at the Tennis Center starting after 8 a.m. on Oct. 25.