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‘Courtroom tennis’ debut attracts a royal customer to Vienna | information/fairfax

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Courtroom tennis is called the “sport of kings,” so it was becoming that Westwood Nation Membership’s gala for its new court-tennis facility in early November featured a visitor look by British royalty.

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Forfar, visited the Vienna membership Nov. 4 and 5 and took half within the celebration and an instruction session on the unique sport.

“Prince Edward is a passionate court-tennis participant who has performed on each court docket on this planet,” mentioned Bryan Stone, Westwood’s normal supervisor and chief working officer.

“The sport dates again tons of of years and is believed to have originated in monastery cloisters and medieval courtyards, which formed in the present day’s [court-tennis] courts that includes angled partitions and roofs,” he mentioned.

There are solely about 50 lively court-tennis courts worldwide and solely a dozen in the US, he mentioned.

Westwood officers constructed the membership’s court docket in collaboration with the US Courtroom Tennis Preservation Basis after each organizations wanted to satisfy challenges.

A wind storm on Thanksgiving Day 2019 collapsed Westwood’s four-court indoor tennis bubble, necessitating greater than $250,000 value of repairs and inflicting the construction nearly to be uninsurable, Stone mentioned.

The membership’s long-range plan referred to as for development of a everlasting indoor facility, however this seemingly wouldn’t have occurred till no less than 2026, he mentioned.

However as luck would have it, a membership member who’s a fervent court-tennis participant and a member of the Worldwide Tennis Membership of Washington (ITCW) mentioned the group was on the lookout for a brand new host web site for its court docket.

ITCW about 20 years in the past constructed a court-tennis facility at Regency Sport and Well being Membership, which now could be Onelife Health McLean. When that membership deliberate to transform the area to different makes use of as soon as the lease expired, the US Courtroom Tennis Preservation Basis actively started pursuing new host websites for the court-tennis facility.

Following months of negotiations, Westwood Nation Membership’s members voted to companion with the inspiration and produce court docket tennis to the membership, situated at 800 Maple Ave., E., in Vienna.

The partnership accelerated development of the brand new facility and revised the unique design from 4 indoor tennis courts to 3, plus a viewing mezzanine and bar, a baseline viewing deck, professional store, two viewing galleries and a court-tennis court docket, Stone mentioned. The membership held a grand opening for the brand new racquet facility Oct. 16.

Prince Edward has a stable relationship with the preservation basis and was happy to just accept an invite from the group to go to Westwood and attend its black-tie gala, Stone mentioned. The prince additionally witnessed among the weekend’s festivities, together with a donor luncheon, e book speak and signing, a junior court-tennis clinic and knowledgeable exhibition match.

Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert attended the Nov. 4 gala along with her husband, Mike, and mentioned Prince Edward gave a speech through the dinner and chatted with a small group afterward.

“He was very charming, honest and had an excellent humorousness,” the mayor mentioned. “The prince performs the game and encourages others, particularly the youth, to play.”

The prince was “remarkably personable,” Stone mentioned. “All of us had been somewhat bit anxious to be showcasing the membership to royalty. He might n’t have been extra gracious together with his time than he did [was] extraordinarily comfy and conversational, only a fantastic particular person to be round.”

Whereas the prince – the youngest of 4 youngsters of the late Queen Elizabeth II and brother of present King Charles III – didn’t play a match throughout his go to, he hosted a junior clinic with Westwood’s head court-tennis skilled, Ivan Ronaldson, and struck a ball throughout the online for a photograph alternative marking the court docket’s official opening.

Stone mentioned he was excited after taking a quick lesson from Ronaldson, and hopes to play court docket tennis once more quickly.

The game’s tools solely vaguely resembles that of ordinary tennis. To make the balls, court-tennis professionals crush wine corks, hand-sew them right into a bladder after which hand-sew material across the bladder, Stone mentioned. “It has a sense that is extra like a baseball than a tennis ball,” he mentioned. “It is a more durable floor.”

Every participant makes use of a really tightly strung picket racket with a head about half the scale of a tennis racket’s.

“So the ball actually zips off the face of the racket,” Stone mentioned. “A few of the higher gamers can hit it 140, 150 mph.”

The foundations of court docket tennis, as with cricket, are “fairly advanced,” though the scoring is just like the 15-30-40-game of tennis, he mentioned. However as a result of the 2 ends of the court docket usually are not an identical, gamers at all times serve from one facet of the court docket and should play off of an angled roof.

A sequence of traces on the court docket’s floor – the precise meanings of that are “past my comprehension,” Stone mentioned – denote varied level scores relying on the place the ball lands on its second bounce with out being hit.

Courtroom-tennis courts range in look and roof supplies used, however the angles of the roofs and “tambor” – a buttress-like space that juts onto the taking part in floor – are standardised, he mentioned.

All of Westwood’s services, together with the court-tennis space, are a part of the membership’s non-public facilities which are accessible to members and friends, Stone mentioned. The court docket will sometimes be accessible for introductory clinics to spice up curiosity within the sport, and it’ll host uncommon tournaments and worldwide competitions that includes gamers from across the US and the world.

The court docket throughout its first month of operation has been booked solidly from 7 am till 10 pm each day with every part from pleasant matches and competitions to classes and clinics, Stone mentioned.

“Not solely is it an ideal place for the preservation basis to keep up the sport, but in addition a extremely distinctive amenity for the Westwood members to get pleasure from,” Stone mentioned.

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