Plans to serve up more tennis opportunities for Zephryhills residents — while also creating a regional asset — have moved yet another step forward.
The Zephyrhills City Council on Oct. 9 unanimously approved a 20-year contract with Tennis P.R.O. Florida, LLC, to operate and mange the proposed Zephyrhills Tennis Center.
Tennis P.R.O. is owned by Pascal Collard, who was the director of tennis at Saddlebrook Tennis Academy in Wesley Chapel from 2003 to 2006.
Most recently, he was tennis director at The Merion Cricket Club, a private club in Haverford, Pennsylvania.
Under the agreement, Tennis P.R.O. will be responsible for day-to-day operations of the facility, which will include providing lessons and running concessions. The firm also will handle memberships and fundraising.
Moreover, Collard’s company will pay $300,000 upfront for capital improvements to the facility — covered court, hitting walls, indoor and outdoor playground and so on.
The agreement also calls for the proposed facility to be open at least 80 hours per week, as weather permits.
“I’m very excited about starting as soon as possible,” Collard told council members.
“I’m already working on the marketing, trying to find out what can we do to make it a big success. We want the community to be involved. We’re also going to have a foundation, where we’re going to try to do a lot of outreach programs,” he said.
Council members unanimously agreed in May to enter negotiations with Tennis P.R.O. LLC, to operate and manage the proposed tennis facility. The firm was selected over Management Partners and Net Results.
The planned $2.19 million complex will include eight clay and two hard surface courts, two sheltered courts, two mini-courts and several pickleball courts, built to U.S Tennis Association (USTA) professional standards.
It also will feature a pro shop, a multifunctional community room, and two office spaces. A second floor, if added, will include an observation deck overlooking the courts with concessions and a lounge for players.
The complex will be located on 4.7 acres of donated land at The District at Abbott’s Square, a new real estate development situated north of Dean Dairy Road and west of Simons Road.
Officials say the project could break ground as soon as March, with construction estimated at 12 to 16 months.
Once complete, it will be renamed Sarah Vande Berg Memorial Tennis Center, after the former Zephyrhills High School district champion who became a scholarship player on the University of South Carolina Upstate women’s tennis team. Vande Berg, the daughter of the Zephyrhills planning director Todd Vande Berg, died in an automobile accident at the age of 21 in October 2015.
City Manager Steve Spina said the city will receive no revenues in the first three years of the complex opening, to help Tennis P.R.O. recoup its upfront costs. For the remainder of the agreement, however, the firm will pay rent to the city based on a percentage of its profits.
Spina said the public-private partnership resembles the one Zephyrhills has with the East Pasco Family YMCA, in which the city owns the building property, but outsources programming and facility management.
Meanwhile, recreation impact fees from The District at Abbott’s Square and other developments will be used to finance most of the facility’s construction costs, city officials say. The city also is looking into additional funding from USTA grants, Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP) grants, Penny for Pasco, and partnerships with Pasco County Parks and Recreation, and Pasco County Tourism.
Memberships, or hourly court rental fees, will be required to access the tennis facility, though Zephyrhills residents will see a price break compared to non-residents.
And, while those figures haven’t yet been configured, they are expected to mirror other clay-court tennis centers in nearby communities.
The eight-court Cindy Hummel Tennis Center, in Auburndale, has yearly memberships ranging from $75 to $171, for unlimited court access. Elsewhere, the 10-court Plant City Tennis Center offers individual annual passes for $350, and family annual passes for $700. Hourly court fees range from $1 to $7 at both facilities.
“If you go to Plant City, if you go Auburndale, if you go to Tampa — to have clay courts you have to have fees,” Spina said.
Aside from serving east Pasco residents, officials believe the new tennis complex could become a draw for college and USTA-sanctioned events.
“We think this is more than a local tennis club; we think it will be a regional asset,” Spina told the council.
“This is a feather in our cap,” said Alan Knight, council president.
“I’m excited about it,” said Lance Smith, council vice president. “I think it’s going to bring some people in here, and we don’t really have any idea how big this is going to be. …I think it’s going to be a great success. I’m looking forward to seeing it come along.”
Published Oct. 18, 2017