The Sarah Vande Berg Tennis & Wellness Center has only been open since September, but it has quickly shown to be a hit among Zephyrhills residents and outsiders alike.
The $4.9 million complex at 6585 Simons Road has already begun delivering on its promise to bring in large-scale racquet sports tournaments, thanks to its portfolio of 11 tennis courts, eight pickleball courts and four padel courts — plus a distinct mix of peak performance treatments in the way of a modern fitness center, cryotherapy, salt room therapy and sports counseling.
The complex hosted a weeklong pickleball tournament from Dec. 7 through Dec. 11, followed by a weekend padel tournament Dec. 12 and Dec. 13.
The pickleball event attracted over 200 participants, making it one of the largest in the state for the entire year, according to Zephyrhills Planning Director Todd Vande Berg, who updated the Zephyrhills City Council on the facility’s happenings at a regular meeting last month.
Meantime, the padel event’s 118 participants made it one of the largest padel tournaments held in the United States, the planning director said.
The padel event alone attracted a sizable contingent from Miami and the South Florida area, while others came in from as far away as Houston, Las Vegas, New York and even California. It is believed a total of 11 states were represented in all.
“They were coming from all over the country to be here in Zephyrhills to play in that padel tournament,” Vande Berg said of the new but fast-growing racquet sport popularized in Mexico and Spain.
And, more big-time tournaments in Zephyrhills are planned in the new year.
The facility will host a $25,000 professional women’s tennis tournament bringing in some of the top-ranked players in the world, from Jan. 28 through Feb. 1.
Vande Berg also noted “there’s potentially a very large tournament that’s in the works of being investigated that would be super exciting if we’re able to get that, but we’ll continue to talk about that if that continues to pull through.”
Elsewhere, the facility’s youth sports training program — called United Global Academy (UGA) “is growing like crazy,” Vande Berg said.
“Every time you go out there, you see new kids that are training there, either on a full-time or afterschool basis; but just everything we’re hearing from parents that are coming in is, ‘An amazing facility,’” he said.
Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vande Berg said the tennis center in general has produced “positive results to this point,” also mentioning that its regular Sunday Brunch has become “very successful.”
The complex is owned by the City of Zephyrhills, but privately managed and operated by renowned tennis instructor Pascal Collard, who’s held similar posts at the Saddlebrook Tennis Center and The Merion Cricket Club in Haverford, Pennsylvania.
It’s named in honor of former Zephyrhills High School district champion Sarah Vande Berg, who became a scholarship player on the University of South Carolina Upstate women’s tennis team.
Sarah, the daughter of Todd Vande Berg, died in an automobile accident at the age of 21 in October 2015.
The facility celebrated a soft opening in September and a grand opening in October, more than a year after a July 2019 groundbreaking on construction.
Published January 06, 2021