The state-of-the-art Wellington Tennis Center, located on Lyons Road, offers programs for every age group, teaching this sport designed for a lifetime and offering open play and tournament play to all Wellington residents.
Director of Tennis Chuck Gill, a USPTA elite professional and a longtime Wellington resident, took over as leader of the facility earlier this year, bringing with him a lifetime of tennis expertise.
“I have been teaching tennis and running tennis operations since I left college,” Gill said. “Serendipitously, my graduation was timed with the peak of the tennis boom, and I started with a management company that operated tennis resorts and clubs. Early on, I had enough business acumen to be successful in the business of tennis. I knew that I loved the game and wanted to be involved in this business. After working at several top resorts, I landed at the Club at Ibis, where I spent the last 24 years growing the program and eventually being the director of sports, where I oversaw tennis, fitness, aquatics and spa.”
Along the way, Gill has been an active tennis volunteer and served as president of the United States Professional Tennis Association, as well as serving on many United States Tennis Association boards and committees.
“Since I began playing tennis at public tennis centers and high schools as a kid, returning to lead a public tennis operation is coming full circle for me,” he said. “I have lived in Wellington for 24 years and always had tennis-playing friends in Wellington. When the position opened up, I was so impressed with the village’s commitment to tennis.”
He lauded the Wellington Village Council and the village staff for having the vision and foresight to build the current Wellington Tennis Center in 2015. Tennis was previously housed at the old Wellington Community Center before that building was razed and rebuilt.
“We have 21 beautiful clay courts with state-of-the-industry underground irrigation,” Gill said. “We also have a clubhouse, pro shop and viewing deck that allows our players to have all of the amenities of a private tennis club at a public tennis center.”
The facility opened in style on June 9, 2015 with an appearance by Venus Williams.
“We have a vibrant and growing junior program for kids of all levels and ages, a complete ladies team program, as well as an active group of men of all ages who frequent the courts,” Gill said.
Thousands of players visit the tennis center each year. “Our junior program starts children as early as age five for our Red Ball program. We have some seniors who are knocking on 90 years young,” Gill said. “Our ladies teams have soccer moms, grandmas and proudly, a few great-grandparents. That is one of the best things about tennis — it is truly the sport of a lifetime.”
The Wellington Tennis Center also hosts tournaments, league play, junior events and more, so new players are always visiting to see all that the facility has to offer.
Fees to use the facility are low when compared to similar tennis centers.
“Being a public facility, our goal is to be inclusive and have everyone able to experience tennis, so price should not be a barrier to play,” Gill said. “Daily court fees start at $12 per person, and annual permits are in the $400 to $500 range per person, and less than $700 for a family. For active players, it is the best value anywhere!”
Gill and his staff offer group and private lessons to all levels. “Cardio tennis and our INTense Hitting session are extremely popular,” he said. “We also offer a ‘love to learn, love to play’ program to help new and returning players get back into tennis and meet others of the same level. Information on all of our programs can be found online or in person at the tennis shop.”
The Wellington Tennis Center caters to players of all levels,
“If you are an avid player, there are several players who were world-class players and some who currently represent the United States in world competitions. The tennis center is also frequented by players who were former college players and played on the ATP or WTA tour,” Gill said. “Of course, our base of players and the vast majority of players are recreational level and enjoy playing socially and local league tennis. Our leagues range from the higher levels in Palm Beach County, to the entry level and everything in between.”
He is expecting a full calendar of tennis events planned over the upcoming year.
“For the first time, we will be hosting a USTA National Championship this fall for the USTA national father/daughter and mother/son tournament,” Gill said. “We will also be hosting matches for the ITF world senior championships next spring when the world’s best senior players visit South Florida. We will be hosting monthly events for juniors with USTA events, and we will be running UTR [Universal Tennis Rating] events as well. These are great opportunities for some of our residents to sample high-level competition without needing to travel around the country.”
Gill’s goal is to make every Wellington tennis player feel at home at their local facility.
“We want to welcome everyone here,” he said. “If you are a local permit holder, this should feel like your home club. If you are visiting for a tournament or event, you should feel equally welcomed. For our youngest players, this should be the place for them to have a great first experience in a sport that they will hopefully play forever. It all starts with a happy and relaxed environment with happy coaches and staff who welcome you to the center each time. If we can be that type of place, we will be successful.”
The Wellington Tennis Center is located at 3100 Lyons Road. For more information, call (561) 791-4775 or visit www.wellingtonfl.gov/tennis.