Owen Brown tennis facility

Columbia Association will build six new outdoor courts at its Owen Brown facility and is also planning to replace the clubhouse (center) with a new building. The bubble (left) houses five indoor courts. (Photo by Luke Lavoie / October 15, 2012)

After more than 35 years of wear and tear, the Columbia Association's six outdoor tennis courts at the Owen Brown Village Center have finally reached break point.

For years the courts have received cosmetic fixes; now comes a complete makeover. According to Bob Bellamy, CA Director of Sport and Fitness, the $235,000 resurfacing project will provide a quality playing surface for decades to come.

"People expect our courts to be in good condition. It's our responsibility to keep them in good condition," Bellamy said. "These courts have had cracks and other issues over the past several years, which we've dealt with. This will make it so the courts will last another 20 or more years."

Brad Harris, a CA tennis committee member and Hickory Ridge resident, called the renovation project an important step forward.

"CA is extremely committed to the tennis playing community," Harris said. "They have a 10-year plan for tennis that is their vision and our vision together, as to what we want the tennis facilities to look like in the future."

Bellamy said the resurfacing project, which shut down the courts last month, three months ahead of schedule, will be completed in the spring of 2013.

Bellamy added that the renovation of the Owen Brown courts will serve as a precursor to the construction of a new clubhouse, which could be completed as early as September 2013.

Currently, CA has budgeted an estimated $350,000 in the fiscal year 2014 budget to replace the clubhouse, which was built in 1975. According to Bellamy, that number could change after the project architect presents formal construction plans to the CA board.

Bellamy said one of the biggest challenges facing the construction of a new clubhouse is making it work with the current bubble, which was built in 1998 and houses five indoor courts.

"The challenge will be to develop a clubhouse that has a lot of flexibility," Bellamy said. "We have a bubble there now, but we don't know if the bubble will still be there when it comes time to replace it."

Bellamy said that most bubbles have a life of 15-20 years, and believes CA can get five more years of use out of the bubble at Owen Brown..

Both Bellamy and Harris believe the Owen Brown projects will give tennis community a boost, much like the new clubhouse did in Wilde Lake two years ago.

"The clubhouse is going to be modeled after the one we have at Wilde Lake. That is a beautiful facility," Harris said. "Not only does it serve the basic function of where you keep the tennis balls, but it also serves as a gathering place for the tennis players."

Harris added that the improvements will make CA tennis facilities among the best in the region.

"When visitors come in to play a USTA match in Columbia, they're going to be really impressed with the quality and the consistency of our tennis courts," Harris said.