Merritt tennis enthusiasts are facing a crisis as local courts deteriorate.

The current facilities, located by the Golf Clubhouse constructed back in the 1980s, have deteriorated due to land movement and lack of drainage, which has caused serious cracks to the courts’ surface and retaining wall.

As of now, two out of the four tennis courts up at the Golf Clubhouse are still safe to be used by the tennis club, while the other two are out of service due to safety risks and bad surface.

Diane Quinn, secretary at the Merritt Tennis Club, said that the club needs support from the city in getting a new site for the courts.

“We had that (courts) under lease with the idea that we would maintain that, which wehave done for over 30 years,” she said. “So all of a sudden this is devastating, you know, first the bank and then the land movement, these deep cracks.”

Bal Bains, vice-president of the Merritt Tennis Club, added that the courts are needed for the community of Merritt as a whole.“We just don’t need it for 25 or 30 people,” he said.

“People coming from other cities thinking about ‘hey, we might move to Merritt’, but then if there’s a tennis fan they might think ‘they don’t even have a court’.”

Rick Green, director of public works and engineering services at City of Merritt, said the tennis courts – including the retaining wall – were built by volunteer community labour at the time, around 30 years ago.

“It’s served well for a lot of years and it’s getting to that, you know, rehab point of frost action, you know, the movement of the river, a little bit of flooding probably contributed a little bit as well to the dynamics underneath the courts themselves,” he added. “So the courts themselves have been experiencing a fair bit of cracking over the last handful of years that have been being patched.”

According to Green, the “cracks in the surface are getting to a point where the repair contractors don’t want the work anymore.”Green added he was concerned that the retaining wall could potentially rotate and or come down, which made him initiate a geotechnical investigation to understand the level of risk in the area.

After the investigation, it was recommended that part of the area was closed, especially close to the retaining wall, due to the risk of it coming down.

“So that essentially has put us in a position where we’ve had to constrain certain areas of the court, which is two of the four tennis courts that are not playable right now due to proximity to this wall.”

According to Green, there has been talks between the City and the Merritt Tennis Club about a possible new location for new courts.

“There’s an old tennis court at Voght Park that could possibly be rehabbed and reinstituted, but it would involve, obviously, some surface work, fencing again and things like that to get it up to usable condition,” he added. “There have been conversations about using the courts up on the Bench a little bit more and then obviously looking at other locations around town where new courts can be built in that aren’t so susceptible to geotechnical movement near the river.”

The Merritt Tennis Club will be giving a presentation to city council on March 12, and prior to that meeting, they will be hosting their annual general meeting on March 3 to discuss ideas on possible solutions for the matter.