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Tennis center plans move forward in Zephyrhills

City Manager Steve Spina praised the city’s planned tennis center as a public/private partnership that will be a big draw of people to Zephyrhills.
City Manager Steve Spina praised the city’s planned tennis center as a public/private partnership that will be a big draw of people to Zephyrhills.
Published Oct. 12, 2017

ZEPHYRHILLS — The city's plan for a tennis center built to professional standards continues to take shape.

A deal has been struck with a company to run the facility, which is slated for construction next spring.

Zephyrhills City Council members this week voted unanimously to approve an agreement with Tennis Pro Florida LLC and its owner, longtime tennis guru Pascal Collard, to run the center, which will be named the Sarah Vande Berg Memorial Tennis Center, in memory of the former Zephyrhills High School and college tennis standout whose death two years ago in a car wreck shocked the community.

Collard has a long resume in tennis. He has coached six Women's Tennis Association-ranked players and is a former director of the renowned tennis program at Saddlebrook Tennis Academy in Wesley Chapel.

"I'm very excited about starting," he told the council.

The tennis center will be a partnership among the city, the developer of an adjacent subdivision and Collard. The city plans to build the $2.1 million facility to professional standards, using design help obtained from the U.S. Tennis Association, on nearly 5 acres on the north end of Dean Dairy Road at Eiland Boulevard.

The city-owned center will be next to the new District at Abbot's Square subdivision, planned by CBD Real Estate Investment for 1,200 single-family and multifamily homes, duplexes and townhouses on 167 acres. CBD plans to donate the land to the city for the tennis center and agreed to pay $800,000 in impact fees upfront to help build it, which will be credited back to the developer as homes are built there, City Manager Steve Spina told the council.

Spina praised the project as a public/private partnership that will be a big draw of people to the city.

"We think it will be a regional asset," he said.

Plans are for eight clay courts, two hard courts, a main exhibition court and two small courts for children under the age of 10 to learn the game. Renderings also show a two-story building with a ground-floor lobby, office space, rest rooms, a fitness room, a tennis pro shop and a community room that can be used for events. The second floor includes an observation deck overlooking the courts with concessions and a lounge for players.

Collard's company will be charged with day-to-day operations of the facility, which will include providing lessons and running concessions. The agreement states that, for the first three years, Collard's company will not owe the city any revenue from the facility, then after the third year will begin paying a percentage of revenue to Zephyrhills. The agreement also mandates that the facility be open 80 hours a week to anyone. A discount on fees for city residents and employees is likely.