Plastic tiles designed to impact shock and improve game performance are now on six tennis courts in a Coquitlam park.
The Flex Court surface at Hickey Park is a first for the city, and is currently the only example at a Metro Vancouver civic facility.
Parks manager Kathleen Reinheimer said Coquitlam city hall hopes the new surface will become a draw.
“We’ve heard a lot of positive response from tennis players so far,” she told the Tri-City News. “We’re looking forward to hearing what the rest of the community thinks of it.”
The surface, which was pre-tested and approved by Coquitlam tennis clubs as well as the city’s sports and recreation advisory committee, was suggested based on the experience of Powell River — the only other municipality in B.C. using Flex Court on its tennis courts.
Neil Pukesh, Powell River’s recreation manager who used to work in Coquitlam’s parks and recreation department, said his municipality is pleased with the product. “We have no issues with it. It’s durable and cheaper than concrete,” Pukesh said of the surface that was installed about a decade ago.
However, he noted, the tiles aren’t popular with pickleball players because the balls can lose their bounce.
For years, Coquitlam had been trying to find ways to update the aging Hickey tennis courts: Because they sit on top of a Metro Vancouver reservoir, of which humidity seeps up and into the concrete, the city was restricted for capital improvements.
Andre Laberge of Flex Court BC told the Tri-City News that the plastic, porous surface has a number of benefits.
And, during the pandemic, business has boomed as homeowners look to retrofit their backyard courts during the lockdown. “COVID has been a big boost for us,” he said. “It’s kept us very, very busy.”
Manufactured by the company in Quebec, Flex Court surfaces have a 15-year warranty and last more than 20 years. The three-quarter inch co-polymer tiles are designed to save up to $5,000 a year in maintenance compared with hard surfaces, according to the company website.
Flex Court is also approved by the International Tennis Federation as well as the United States Tennis Association, and is endorsed by professional tennis champions.
Besides the new surfacing at Hickey Park, the city also installed new black plastic-coated chain-link mesh fencing around the courts; UV mesh (to shield the wind); LED lighting; push-button lighting controls; and new basketball hoops on the basketball court. In addition, the city repainted the lines on the ball hockey and basketball courts.
A $200,000 grant from the federal gas tax fund offset the cost for the $750,000 work.
“I’m glad to see that the federal gas tax fund has helped provide Coquitlam residents with new and improved ball courts at Hickey Park. Creating safe, up-to-date recreation facilities is key to encouraging people to stay active and building healthy communities,” said Ron McKinnon, MP for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, in a news release.