Group to fill void for tennis players

Tumwater: Site near airport will provide indoor courts after Bally’s closure last year

rboone@theolympian.comJune 22, 2012 

A couple with ties to the South Sound tennis community are aiming to open a new indoor tennis facility in Tumwater next month, giving tennis players new hope after a Bally Total Fitness location in Olympia closed last year.

John Campbell, the former tennis program director at Bally fitness and his wife, Cheri, the North Thurston High School girls tennis coach, are working toward opening Capitol City Tennis and Athletic Center at 7845 Center St. S.W., not far from Olympia Regional Airport.

The site is a 75,000-square-foot warehouse that previously was occupied by Harbor Wholesale Foods, which expanded into a 200,000-square-foot warehouse in Hawks Prairie last year.

The Campbells aren’t doing it alone, Cheri Campbell said; they are one of three families that make up an ownership group called Magma Tennis LLC.

After Bally and its indoor tennis courts closed, the Campbells sought to lease the courts. That deal fell through, so they began to look for a large building with high enough ceilings to accommodate tennis. They hoped to find something in Lacey to serve that part of the county, but ultimately found the right location in Tumwater.

“We are wanting to see the tennis community continue,” Campbell said.

After Bally was acquired by LA Fitness and closed, tennis players in Thurston County were left with one option – the Valley Athletic Club in Tumwater – for indoor, year-round play.

If not there, then it means having to leave the county for another indoor destination, such as the Sprinker Tennis Center in Spanaway, she said.

The Capitol City Tennis and Athletic Center will have six full-size tennis courts as well as two or three smaller courts known as junior quick-start courts, to help stimulate an interest in tennis among children and youth. They also plan to design the courts to include pickleball lines as well as space for indoor soccer and volleyball.

The center will offer memberships and discounts that come with being a member, Campbell said, as well as a nonmembership rate to play tennis.

Rates are still to be determined, although the nonmember fee for tennis likely will be about $10 per hour, she said. There are also offices in the building that could be rented to offer massage therapy or personal training, Campbell said.

About 40 volunteers helped clean up the Tumwater site last Saturday, and they’re going to do it again from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. this Saturday, she said.

Tumwater Community Development director Mike Matlock said the project has so far moved through the preliminary and feasibility stages of review as required by the city. After that it will face a formal review – a kind of checklist of remaining things that still need to be done – then the owners can apply for building permits to make tenant improvements, he said.

Although the center might not be completely open, a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony is set for July 6, Campbell said. Mike Anderson, a former Bally tennis instructor and family friend who died of skin cancer, is the subject of the dedication, she said.

Follow the center’s progress at www.tennisorphans.com or with Thurston County Tennis Orphans, a Facebook group (www.facebook.com/TennisOrphans) created “for the group of tennis players left orphaned by the LA Fitness acquisition of Ballys.”

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com www.theolympian.com/bizblog @rolf_boone

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