The original 1897 location of the Vancouver Lawn Tennis & Badminton Club, in Vancouver’s West End, had, as part of its founding membership, the Cambies, the Malkins, and the Marpoles. By 1914, they were beginning to outgrow the location, and purchased from the Canadian Pacific Railway what is now the present, permanent, location, at 15th and Fir. The Vancouver Lawn Tennis & Badminton Club is, in this manifestation, celebrating its centenary.
There is plenty of buzz on the grounds these days, as a new squash centre with five courts is coming, plus renovated restaurant and dining spots, and more on the way. An overall recalibration of the experience of the place, for members both playing and non-playing, make it a fine place to be. There are indoor and outdoor tennis courts, and both clay and hard surfaces.
The various surfaces mean players here, at all levels of competitiveness, can prepare for competitions pretty much anywhere in the world, since they can hone their game on both. And as any Grand Slam devotee knows, the skill sets for each surface varies greatly, along with strategy.
The Badminton Hall, built in 1928, was the first dedicated badminton facility in North America, and sustains a growing, fervent player community, complete with world-class instructors and modern courts. The swimming pool, as are several tennis courts, is covered in the wet, cool months, but open-air for the warm months. Gym studio space, replete with equipment, massage therapists, personal trainers, and steam and sauna rooms, mean the recreational opportunities here are a world unto themselves. Chef James Schaeffer brings a fresh approach to traditional club fare, with three clearly articulated menus at the Player’s Lounge, the Pub, and the Bistro. Wine events are becoming more and more popular as well. The whole place is firmly family friendly, with specially dedicated spaces and designated times, for different age groups. Instruction for all three sports is available from novice to expert levels, and it is easy to imagine the agony and ecstasy of the family torch being passed from one generation to the next, in a heavily contested match.
There is an undeniable charm to the courts, pristine, and silently speaking to an earlier era, when milk cost 10 cents a quart, and beef tenderloin was 24 cents a pound. In 1914, this land was not even within Vancouver’s city limits, and was considered farmland, which explains the purchase price, of $40,000. Still, to return your opponent’s first service on one of these courts, is to have intimations of Wimbledon or French Open glory, as you earnestly pound the ball over the net and down the line; game on.
Photo by Josh Michnik.
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